Monday, February 24, 2014

I am still here

One would think that I have been too busy to post anything since January, judging by the total lack of anything appearing in these pages. I have been cooking, catering and partying, but not as often as I would like. Certain issues on the home front have at times, rendered me completely paralyzed with depression. I am not comfortable using the D word, as it might belittle many people who are clinically depressed, and mine was certainly not that. Unhappiness would be a better word, and totally of my own doing. With the help of many wonderful friends and my son, I feel as if I am back in control of my life.

Hopefully, i won't be absent for such a long period of time again.

I made some crispy fried Vietnamese spring rolls recently which I would like to share with you. They are relatively easy to make, except for getting the rice paper at the correct consistency to roll without tearing up. Many years ago, while working in Les Orres France, as a ski instructor, I was invited for dinner by the local Doctor and his wife. He was 1/2 Vietnamese ( probably still is) and was an amazing chef as well as a brilliant acupuncturist. The dinner was amazing, and I tried to replicate it when I got back to the UK.
What a cluster f**ck.
I had all the right ingredients, but I had not watched him soak the rice paper. On my return the following season, I asked him to show me what he did.

Here is how you do it.

The filling is a mixture of ground pork, fresh crab and rice vermicelli. The rice noodles only need boiling water poured over them to cook. Drain and add them to the other ingredients.
It should have had some black fungus in it too, but I couldn't find any at our local store, and I was buggered if I was going off island to get it. It is usually dried, so if you do add it, soak it first. Add some crushed garlic and a touch of ginger and a splash of fish sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Combine and set to one side.

For the wrappers, you need a large bowl or tray filled with hand hot water. Set it next to a large cutting board. The filling should be next to that and a tray with waxed paper should be set next to that, in a sort of production line.

Pick up one wrapper and soak it in the hot water for a couple of seconds until it starts to become pliable. Lay it on the board at the end next to the filling. Do the same with the second. Go back to the first one and add the filling and then fold and roll, tucking in the ends as you roll. Place the roll in the tray with the wax paper, then dip the 3rdwrapper and place on the board. Go back to filling the second wrapper and so on until all your wrappers are filled.

In a large shallow pan or Wok, heat some vegetable oil to about 320 degrees and start frying them off in small batches. There should be enough oil to cover them completely. Be careful to give them plenty of space as they will stick together. Turn them often until a nice golden brown in color, then place them in a tray in the oven to stay warm (about 200 degrees). I cut them in half to serve, as they can be a bit of a mouthful.

Once they have all been fried, make a dipping sauce with lemon juice and fish sauce, crushed garlic and add shredded scallions to garnish. You can vary the amount of ingredients to taste.

Try it, it is delicious and fairly impressive to serve.