Monday 7 July 2008

Deep-Fried Delights

Much to the dismay of my waistline, I've gone from a mild dislike of deep-frying - some may have even called it a fear - to something of a compulsion. The Agedashi Tofu turned me. Prior to this recipe I'd regarded deep-frying as something beyond my realm. My first deep-frying attempt saw me try to make falafels. I'd gone as far as soaking the chickpeas, blending them up with parsley, lemon, garlic, all those aromatics. When it came to cooking them, I was excited. The oil heated up and I waited patiently - I even tossed a breadcrumb in to see if the oil was hot enough.

Alas, it was not to be. The falafels fell apart into a million little pieces, all fizzing away furiously in the oil. My (now ex) housemate snorted: "Well, you f*cked that up, didn't you?". He has a way with words. Well, due to the success (with just minor burns) of the tofu, it was time to move on. Time for deep-fried meaty things... like spring rolls.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Makes 8 - 10

200gr minced pork
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
A handful of woodear mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced finely
2 spring onion, sliced into shreds
1 clove of garlic, minced
2" piece of ginger, grated
1/2 bag of stir-fry vegetables
A handful of rice vermicelli or (preferably) glass noodles, soaked in boiling water for about 10 minutes
Rice paper
About 250ml vegetable oil for deep frying

Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce

3 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped finely
A little diced carrot

Marinate the pork in the ginger, woodear mushrooms, garlic and the dark soy. Meanwhile, once the noodles are soft cut into 3" strands. Add to the vegetable ingredients. I used a packet of bog-standard Tesco beansprout stir-fry packet, to save on the chopping. Prepare a bowl of hot water to dip the rice paper sheets in.

Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce and set to one side.

Lay out a clean tea towel in front of you. Dip the rice paper discs into the hot water until they soften. When they have done, place carefully on the tea towel and dab dry. Cut the discs in half. With the straight edge facing you, place a little of the pork mixture in the centre on the edge. Add some vegetables and noodles, taking care not to add too much (it's trial and error). Fold the round edges in to seal the sides, and then start rolling it up from the flat edge. You should end up with a 3 or 4" long roll. Once these are all done, heat the oil up in a wok. Once hot enough (add a breadcrumb; it should sizzle) carefully place the rolls in, ensuring they don't touch each other. Fry until browned, about 5 - 6 mins in total.

To serve, I separated the leaves of a head of Little Gem, so that you can use the leaves as a wrapper to pick up the roll and to dip into the nuoc cham.

This was quite a fiddly process for my oafish fingers, but with some practice (and a helper) it shoudn't be too time consuming. It's delicious; the crunch of the rice paper wrapper is really complemented by the crunch of the beansprouts and vegetables, whilst the dipping sauce really lifts it. This only goes to confirm my new-found love of deep-frying.


Anonymous said...

I have had too many disasters with falafels to even mention.

But I am finally trying the agedashi tofu either tonight or tomorrow night. I am very afraid that the tofu will disintegrate but I will be brave!!

tigerfish said...

So juicy and moist! I can see it! :)

Anonymous said...

I really want to try making these but I have The Fear, I just know I'm going to get it wrong.

Every single person I've ever known to attempt falafel has f**ked it up too, me included, so don't beat yourself up!