Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls

Egg rolls and Thanksgiving are two things I associate thanks to my parents' Vietnamese friend who would make them for us every Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I've recently been trying to replicate these egg rolls because they were always the most delicious item on the dinner table and I can't help but crave them during the holiday season.  I can't say mine are truly Vietnamese because they don't have the correct type of wrapper (still looking for them...) but they are still very tasty, and surprisingly easy to make.  They are a bit time consuming, but as long as you plan ahead, you will be well rewarded.
1 pound ground pork
1/2-3/4 pounds raw shrimp 
1 cup shredded or julienned carrots
1 cup chopped mushroom
1 cup shredded or finely diced onion
2 cups bean thread noodles or thin rice noodles
1 T fish sauce
1 T soy sauce
1 egg
1 package Chinese egg roll wrappers
Canola oil, for frying

Dipping Sauce:
2 T rice vinegar
1 T lime juice
2 T fish sauce
Finely diced hot peppers to taste (we used 3 pickled Thai chili peppers)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar

Start by chopping and combining the carrots, mushroom and onion. 
Meanwhile, put your noodles into a bowl or pot of hot water, and let them sit for 5-10 minutes or until tender.  While you are waiting for the noodles to soften, peel your shrimp, and put them in the food processor to turn them into a paste.  An alternative would be to finely chop the shrimp.  Mix the shrimp paste and ground pork in with the vegetables.   
When the noodles are soft and flexible, drain them and coarsely chop them to add to the egg roll mixture.  Then add the fish and soy sauce, and egg and stir to combine well. For a taste test before you make the egg rolls, put a spoonful of the egg roll filling into the microwave for 30 seconds and taste it.  Then you can see if you need to add salt or pepper if the taste is bland.  You could also add hot sauce if you are interested in a spicier filling.  We choose to make the dipping sauce spicy instead of the filling.

You can begin heating your oil while you roll the egg rolls.  I always heat it over medium heat, giving time to come to temperature.  I find the best temperature is about 325 degrees F, which keeps it from getting too hot so the center and outside are able to cook evenly. You should have about 1 1/2-2 inches of oil in your pot or pan to be high enough for the egg rolls to cook.  When you flick a drop of water on the oil and it sizzles immediately, it is probably ready. To fill the egg rolls, lay out a wrapper and place about 2 tablespoons of filling toward one corner.
Fold the corner closest to the filling toward the opposite corner, leaving about 1 1/2 inches space in between.
Fold each side tightly toward the middle of the egg roll. 
Roll forward, and use water to brush the seal of the wrapper before you finish the roll.  This will make it stick together during the frying process.
When the oil is ready for frying, begin placing the egg rolls in, as many as you can fit without over crowding.  I only did two at a time because I was using a small pot to save oil. 
When the egg rolls are fully browned on the outside, they are probably done.  Strain and place on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the oil.  You may need to rotate them during cooking.  The total fry time per batch should be about 4-5 minutes.  When the first batch cools for a couple minutes, you can cut the egg rolls open to see if the filling is fully cooked.  If not, you probably need to turn the heat down a bit so the egg rolls take longer to cook before browning.  You can put the raw roll(s) back in the oil in halves for about 1 minute to finish cooking.  
Enjoy with dipping sauce! (recipe below)
The dipping sauce is based on trying to replicate Vietnamese Nuoc Mam.  Combine the rice vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, minced garlic & onion, hot chili pepper, and sugar.  Allow to sit and let the flavors combine.  Stir to make sure the sugar has dissolved before serving.  Best made a few hours (or a day) in advance.

Yum!  These are best eaten the day they are made, so you can save extra filling and wrappers in the refrigerator to make later in the week. You can also reuse the oil, after straining, assuming you didn't burn anything the first time.  As for reheating, the best method is in the oven although it is hard to retain the crispiness they have right after being fried.  I'm still looking for the Vietnamese egg roll wrappers, but in the meantime these Chinese egg rolls make for a pretty tasty alternative!

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