Sunday, 14 June 2009

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Yeah, I'm writing again. Hello! I won't do my usual long apology/explanation for my absence because it will probably happen again and if I do it every time it will just get boring. This time, however, I must name check Jo, whose great new blog is an inspiration and delight and has encouraged me to get back in the game. The blogging game, that is.

So, a few of my besties and their men came for dinner on Friday, and to start with I made vegetable spring rolls. They are incredibly easy – the only slightly complicated bit is in the folding, which I'm sure most of you would be able to do without any difficulty but I was never good at origami and I couldn't work out how to do them until Vangie, my parents' great cleaner, showed me how, Phillipines-style. She gave me a spring roll masterclass one afternoon, and in exchange I gave her a chocolate cake masterclass – the perfect swap.

These spring rolls are only lightly pan-fried, so are much healthier than those you'd get in a restaurant, and they crisp up beautifully in the oven if you want to fry them in advance. Additionally, you can make up the spring rolls and leave them uncooked in the fridge for a couple of days before you need them, so they are great for parties and big dinners.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Vegetables of your choice – I think the ones that work best are bean sprouts, carrots (grated or finely sliced), pak choi or Chinese cabbage, onion, and thinly sliced peppers. It's hard to give exact quantities but if you want to cheat with this, I recommend buying those packs of ready-prepared stir-fry vegetables – one 300g pack will make around 8 spring rolls (obviously depending on size)
Fresh ginger, grated
Garlic, crushed
Soy sauce
Vegetable oil
Spring roll wrappers
1 egg white

Add a small amount of oil to a hot frying pan, and add the ginger and garlic. Fry for a minute or two and then add all the vegetables. Stir fry for a few minutes, and add soy sauce. You could, of course, stir fry using any sauce of your choice. The key is to add all the flavour you want at this stage because there is no other opportunity to do so. The other important point is to make sure there is no liquid remaining – either drain the vegetables when cooked, or cook them enough so that all the liquid is absorbed or has evaporated. Soggy vegetables will make soggy spring rolls.

Cool, and spoon a small amount onto each spring roll wrapper (this is one kind of pastry I don't think I'll be making myself!) and roll and fold the pastry to seal. It is hard to explain how – see this link for pictures.

Essentially, angle the square pastry so that one of the points is facing you. Put a dollop of vegetables just above this point, about a quarter of the way up the pastry. Roll upwards from your point to the back, and when you are just over half way, fold the sides in over your roll. Continue rolling until the end, and then, using your fingers, smear some egg white over the last point of pastry remaining and stick it down to the roll to seal it.

When they are all formed, heat a little oil in a frying pan and put the spring rolls in. They cook very quickly, so keep turning them to make sure they don't burn. Crisp up later in a hot oven, or eat straight away.