Don’t be afraid. These are easy to make.
Sometimes you hear food lovers say that what makes a meal great is that “it was made with love.” There is probably some truth to that, but what does that actually mean? I think cooking good food is emotional. It is an expression of how you feel about it, the occassion and the people you’re serving. For example, consider that one thing that is more important than anything to one of your guests, that one thing that reaches their soul, that ignites their ultimate passion and then if you really wanted to tap into that one thing, you might consciously taylor a meal around it just for them. Think of it as a way of conveying or expressing emotions through the most timeless and domestic of tasks; cooking.
For me, meeting these spring rolls was love at first sight. I would eat healthy whole foods forever if my only reward was to be able to eat these from time to time. There’s something between me and these spring rolls that I cannot explain. In jest, I would offer that they were probably made with love. It’s a love affair that I cannot depart.
When I first met these, I was dining at a restaurant in downtown Seattle for the monthly gathering of Dinner Club. The girls and I decided, for about a year, to pick restaurants to learn about food rather than picking a theme and going to someone’s house (When you have been part of a Dinner Club for over ten years, you are allowed to derail from the traditional Dinner Club “rules”, so to speak. In fact, what we learned is that by going out, you become inspired by new things and essentially repeat the experience at home, which is exactly the point of Dinner Club.). These spring rolls were the appetizer. I know this because I ordered them and loved them so much that when this restaurant decided to participate in offering cooking classes through a local merchant, I quickly signed up myself and a fellow Dinner Club friend and we both took the class. I have since changed the recipe slightly to include ingredients that I prefer which is the recipe that follows. And that, my friends, is the desire and passion for that “one” thing that thrills you. In a way, it’s alot like stalking someone you admire, yet it’s legal and you don’t have to go to jail.
Prepare your deep fryer. This recipe makes 25 spring rolls.
1 pkg of super thin spring roll wrappers such as Menlo (these can be found in gourmet grocery stores or an asian market)
2 lbs ground chicken breast pulsed again in a food processor until small
1/2 head green cabbage
2 large carrots
8 oz. can water chestnuts
4 oz. bean thread noodles
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. Black Bean Garlic Sauce
1/2 t. black pepper
1 egg, whisked for egg wash
After chicken is ground, set aside. Remove bean thread noodles and soak them, covered, in warm to hot water which will soften them. You will later drain the water. Set aside. Shred cabbage, carrots and water chestnuts together in food processor, set aside.
In a big, deep frying pan, place the oil and heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the minced onion and cook for two minutes. Add garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the soy sauce, black bean sauce and pepper. Stir together for one minute. Add the processed chicken and cook for three minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and complete the cooking process. Remove from heat when chicken is cooked through. Drain the bean thread noodles and wring out gently. Add them to the frying pan and stir together. Place mixture in 9 x 13 pan and store uncovered in the refrigerator to cool slightly.
To assemble spring rolls: Your spring roll wrappers should be room temperature. Prepare your egg wash by whisking the egg in a small bowl. Remove the wrappers from the package and place on a wet paper towel. Cover with another wet paper towel to keep them moist. Place the wrappers one at a time onto your work surface and place 1 to 1 1/2 T. mixture onto one corner of the wrapper. Gently roll the wrapper from that corner to the center, fold in each side and continue rolling stopping slightly before the end. Use your finger to place a spot of eggwash on the exposed corner and complete your roll. Store rolls between wax paper. Can be frozen, uncooked, for up to a month.
Cooking your spring rolls: Heat fryer or oil in a frying pan to 315 degrees. When temperature is reached, carefully drop rolls in to fryer. Be sure not to over crowd. These cook for about 8 minutes, but check on them so they don’t burn. Remove them onto a serving plate lined with paper towel to cool slightly. I find that the best sauce to dip these in when serving is sweet chili sauce.