Saturday, January 21, 2017

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China is the most important traditional holiday in China. The date for Chinese New Year changes each year, although it always falls between January 21st and February 20th. This year, January 28th begins the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese Calendar.

In the recipe below, Sambal Oelek is a chunky, ground, chili paste with no other flavors added. This provides the simple, pure taste of chilies. It does pack some heat, so add slowly and adjust to your taste. Sambal Oelek can be found in import shops, at Runge's Delicatessen in Courtenay and some grocery stores in the import aisle. For a substitute, try Sriracha, it is slightly sweeter with a touch of garlic but they are comparable in 'chili heat'. The other difference is the Sriracha is smooth and Sambal Oelek is a chunkier paste.

Indonesian Spring Rolls                  Yield: 24 small Spring Rolls 
For this recipe, use the small, 6-1/2" diameter rice papers, sometimes called Spring Roll Wrappers. These rolls should be prepared no more than 4 hours ahead of cooking. Store them covered in the fridge. They can also be frozen, uncooked, for up to 2 months.

24 dried rice paper wrappers (6-1/2" diameter)
Small, rice paper (Spring Roll) wrappers...
Brush one side with water the other side with egg.
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 pastry brushes
oil for deep frying

1 Tbsp. sesame oil
6 medium, dried shiitake mushrooms
2 carrots, cut into 1/2" long julienne strips
1/2 small suey choy (Chinese cabbage), finely shredded 
1 medium onion, cut into julienne strips 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 Tbsp. cornstarch 
3/4 tsp. Sambal Oelek, or to taste
1 egg, beaten

Dipping Sauce: 
2 Tbsp. demerara sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
1-1/2 tsp. Sambal Oelek

Place dry shiitake mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover them with hot water. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 20 minutes. When the mushrooms have softened slightly, strain the liquid through a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth. Reserve 2 Tbsp. mushroom liquid for later in the recipe and the rest for stock, sauces, or discard. Remove the mushroom stems and discard. Cut the caps into thin julienne strips and set aside.
Assembly Step #1
Heat sesame oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and saute until soft, add the garlic and saute until the onion is golden but don't burn the garlic. Add the julienne cut shiitake mushrooms, carrots and shredded cabbage and the 2 Tbsp. reserved mushroom liquid. Stir fry the veg over medium-high heat, just until they are still crispy. Sprinkle over the cornstarch and mix in gently. Remove the skillet from the heat, add sambals, egg and mix well. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
Assembly Step #2
While the filling cools, make the dipping sauce. Measure all ingredients into a small glass or plastic jar with a tight fitting lid. Cover the jar, shake vigorously and set aside. 
Preheat the oil for deep frying to 350F to 375F.

To assemble the Spring Rolls: 
Step #1- cover a clean work surface with plastic wrap. Place rice paper, on the plastic wrap and brush one side lightly with water, then turn the rice paper over and brush the other side with beaten egg. Let stand just until the rice paper softens. Place one tablespoon of cooled filling on each rice paper and fold over to just cover the filling. 
Assembly Step #3
Step #2- Fold the sides in and continue to roll up snugly. 
Deep fry until lightly browned
Step #3- Continue filling and rolling until all ingredients are used. Place finished rolls between layers of plastic wrap on a bakesheet. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp, not wet, cloth. 

Deep fry in preheated oil for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot with dipping sauce. 

*CHEF'S NOTE: You can prepare and deep fry these rolls up to 6 hours prior to serving. Cool completely and cover them with plastic wrap. Store in the fridge until serving time. To serve, place in a preheated 375F oven for about 8-10 minutes or until hot throughout.
Indonesian Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce

Till next time Kung Hei Fat Choi and Bon App├ętit!

Recipe and Photos by Sally Rae

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