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Friday, September 18, 2009

If Martha were Vietnamese-- Chả Giò

Chả Giò or Fried Pork Spring Rolls is a family favorite 'round here. And I think half the fun is that the whole family likes to participate in making and rolling them. To be honest, when we do make them, I really don't "cook" at all. I just clean around them, wiping counters, washing dishes, and putting ingredients away. I enjoy the fruits of everyone's labor. On the easy scale, this one is easy. And something everyone will like.

Your local Asian grocery sells the shredded jicama and carrots in the produce section so that's too easy. And the ground pork is easy to find at the same butcher.
BTW-I'm the kind of gal who doesn't mind the smell the meat section of the grocery a couple isles away. Does that make me weird? Maybe it's in my upbringing with my own papa taking me to all those Mexican grocery stores. I really was taught to smell meats to see if they were good. I guess this is just another thing that has passed us by for a more advanced civilization. Kinda like my Nana and jam conversation. Now all the meat is wrapped in plastic on red or blue styrofoam, and we assume it's all good. Not sure if I really like that much. Anywho, you can smell the butcher coming in the Asian grocery store. Fish, live and dead, and lots of "parts" we Americans don't and/or won't cook with. Maybe that's too much for some of you. You all can just order egg rolls from your favorite take-out joint.

Caucasian disclaimer-- I'm far from an authority on Vietnamese cuisine, cooking, grocery stores, Martha Stewart, dead fish parts, or even syrofoam. I'm barely approaching the novice stage. What I know about Vietnamese cooking will only embarrass myself. But I'm certainly gonna keep trying. I just don't want to die thinking, I wish I would have tried that. And maybe if I pass on what very little I know, someone else will try their hand at it too.

Start by mixing the filling ingredients together.

Get the wrappers out and ready. I know this sounds silly, but we made the mistake of getting the wrong wrappers the first time. There are so many brands to choose from, so on our 2nd attempt, we actually looked for a package with a picture that looked like what we were trying to make. So novice, but it worked!
Now the fun part! Start heating the oil up now. It'll probably be up to temperature by the time all the rolls are wrapped up.

First put a mound of the filling on the wrapper, not quite in the middle but back toward one of the corners.

Shape the filling into a pump little oblong football shape.

Fold the corners over...

...and then the top...

...and keep rolling it up.

Add your roll to the stack and make another till the filling is gone.
See that wasn't hard at all!

Now fry. I make sure that the oil is at the right temperature before I add the roll. I use a thermometer cause I'm too linear and obsessive to trust myself. But that's a whole 'nother blog post. The rolls should bubble and fry as soon as they touch the oil.

I don't cook too many at once so they won't stick together and so the temperature of the oil doesn't dip too low.

Flip the rolls over when they are golden brown on one side. Wait till their golden brown all over then take them out to drain.

While the family is making the rolls, or before hand, I make the dipping sauce. It is the stereotypical sweet and sour sauce that is served with SO many Vietnamese dishes. You know, the one with the carrot sheds floating in it! It is VERY easy to throw together, and once prepared, will save in the fridge a few weeks.

I get the family to roll up all the rolls. They seem to have fun doing it, competing a little to see who makes the best one.

Here's Boo watching Livy.

Hey sissy, that looks neat. Will you show me how?

Am I doing it right, Livy?

I think I'm getting the hang of it!

THIS is why I always wanted a house full of kids! Really, can there be a better vision to a mama then her children helping one another, learning and teaching and enjoying each other. This is the BEST! Never-you-mind that just that morning they were at each other over a hair brush and things were thrown down the hall way in vicious anger! I'm gonna revel in the image of Livy's arm around Boo and him beaming a smile. My bubble o' denial helps my blood pressure.

Look what I made Mama!

The tongue is to die for!

I better watch Papa carefully and make sure he cooks it till it's just perfect!

At the table, you can wrap the roll in a lettus leaf, dip in the Nuc Cham and enjoy!


Golden Pork Spring Rolls or Chả Giò (this is from a couple different recipes combined with lots of changes) Makes 8 (Ya right! We at least double the recipe.)

8 oz ground pork
1 c each of shredded jicama and shredded carrots
1/4 c diced onions
1/4 c softened saifun noodles
1/4 c softened ear wood ear mushrooms shreds (don't let this one scare you! It's easy!)
1/2 t each of sugar, salt, & pepper
egg roll wrappers - softened
Oil for deep frying

Nuoc Cham/Dipping sauce:
1 c very hot or boiling water
1/3 c fish sauce
1/3 c sugar
2 T lime juice
1 t chili paste
carrot, shredded (or just some of the already shredded carrots from the filling above
  • Soak wood ear mushroom shreds and and saifun noodles in water till soft-at least 1 min.
  • Dice onions
  • If jicama or carrots have moisture, squeeze to dry
  • In a bowl, combine ingredients for filling
  • Wrap and roll firmly in rice paper
  • Deep fry at 350 degrees till golden and crispy.

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