A lot of the food that makes it to the blog is classic Americana — the kind of thing you'd find at a state fair. Fried turkeys, fried fish, mozzarella sticks, fried Twinkies, etc. However, frying is not a purely American art form, as we found out in one delicious evening!
A frying enthusiast and avid reader of Off The Deep End suggested an Asian frying night, and Bobby and I were more than happy to participate. So, after stocking up on spring roll wrappers, fish sauce, and bean sprouts, our project began!
First on the menu: crispy spring rolls. Let me preface this by saying that we thought everything was going to be much easier than it actually was. Like a whole lot easier. Bear that in mind while we explore the carnage in the pictures below.
We found a recipe for spring rolls here. The filling was surprisingly easy to make and would actually make a great side dish. Next it was time to deal with the wrappers. Spring roll wrappers start out as big, thin circles that break at the slightest provocation. Not unlike whiny children or small animals, they become much easier to work with after you hold them underwater for a while.
First, we slapped some filling on them.
Remember that part where I talked about carnage? Here's what it looked like:
It tasted delicious, mind you, but the problem in presentation came from the fact that we overstuffed the wrapper. Also, I don't think we rolled it up tightly enough. I’m using the royal "we" here. (I actually felt OK at that step, as I've had some practice rolling similar things in high school and college... like burritos, crepes...wait, what did you think I meant?) Once we figured that out, here was the end product:
Next on the menu, crab Rangoon! I think these turned out really well. You can find our recipe for the fillings here. We couldn't find any wonton wrappers at the grocery store, so we again went with the spring roll wrappers. (A couple dollars gets you a stack of wrappers about half an inch tall, which, it turns out, is probably 25 trillion of them. Not knowing this, and worried we might run out, I of course bought two packages. Also, I had a choice of buying 6oz. of crab meat for about $8 or 8oz. of "imitation crab-flavored seafood product" for $2.99. I think you know which one I chose.)
We learned our lesson and used only a little bit of filling. We also wrapped them up dumpling-style and dipped them in an egg wash before going into the fryer. Here's what they looked like before:
Aaand the delicious after:
Bonus gooey money shot:
So what went right? (It's fake crab meat and cream cheese. What could really go wrong?) Well, for starters, the smaller size and improved wrapping technique worked really well. If we had any leftover spring roll filling at this point, I think we'd re-do those using what we learned. Also, the egg wash gave it that nice, golden-brown color you want in your fried goods, and also really helped to seal up the Rangoon. These were delicious and very easy to make.
(Seriously, these were amazing. I think there is a lot smaller margin for error in making spring rolls. For these, you just needed to wrap a blob of filling with the wrapper in any way you want. It didn't matter if it wasn't rolled up cleanly. Also, I think we could have made dozens of crab Rangoon with the amount of filling the recipe called for.)
Next, our guest brought some Italian rice balls after a failed attempt at Asian-style rice balls. They were awesome!
Before and after in the same shot:
Next were some actual dumplings, made by our guest's mother.
Before, on the brink of transformation:
After, delicious and bubbly:
The outside was very perfectly crispy and chewy, and the inside was very flavorful.
So that was our adventure, hope you all enjoyed the ride! Everything was delicious and we'll have to make it again sometime, especially those crab Rangoon. Special thanks to Michele Rhee for her treats and her great idea!
There are still a lot of spring roll wrappers in Bobby's pantry (We used plenty and broke a lot more, but I'd say there still at least 48 trillion left.), so if anybody knows what we should do with those, you know how to reach us.