It’s a new year! I hope 2014 is treating you well.
My resolution this year is to write more often. At least once a week. Scratch that. My GOAL is to write at least once a week.
As a goal rather than a resolution it won’t get tangled up in the eagerness of January only to be lost as the newness of the year fades, right?
Writing is one of those odd things. When I write often, writing is easy and there are lots of things to write about. But if I haven’t written in a while, here or otherwise, writing is difficult and it feels like there isn’t much to write about.
Here’s to a year of easy writing!
Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
3 oz cellophane noodles
1 pound carrots
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
12 oz ground pork
8 oz ground chicken
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp fish sauce
- Break up the cellophane noodles into short lengths into a large bowl. Cover the short noodle pieces with hot water from a recently boiled kettle, giving them a few minutes to sit in their bath until they relax.
- Strain the noodles and set aside to cool.
- Finely grate all of the carrots as well as the onion and garlic. If you have a food processor with a grater attachment this would be an excellent time to make use of it.
- To create the cha gio filling, mix well together the cellophane noodles, ground pork, ground chicken, grated carrots, onion, and garlic, sugar, salt, pepper and fish sauce until uniform.
- Set out a wrapper (I used the 4 inch square wrappers, you could use the 6 inch square wrappers if you would like your spring rolls to be larger), and brush the edges with water to help the wrapper stick securely once rolled up.
- Use a scant tablespoon of filling for each spring roll (more if you are using the larger wrappers), and place it just below the diagonal of the wrapper. A piping bag makes an easy job of this!
- Bring the short end of the wrapper up over the filling, fold in the corners, and then roll up the spring roll to make a cigar shape.
- Repeat this process with a new wrapper until you run out of filling.
- If you’re going to eat your spring rolls right away: shallow fry or deep fry until golden, blistered, and cooked through to the middle.
- If you are planning to wait a while before eating your spring rolls: set the spring rolls our on cookie sheets, with space between them so that they do not stick together, and freeze. Once frozen, you can put them all into a resealable container for the freezer until you are ready to cook them.
- Enjoy with nuoc cham or plum sauce for dipping!
So delicious! Just like at my favorite Vietnamese noodle house!
My friend Kim, who used to cook for a living, has been heard to say a number of times, “I don’t trust food with more than one kind of animal in it.” A lot of the time I agree with her. In this case I think she is flat out wrong.
My cha gio are a little bit deceiving. They are flavored quite simply; sugar, salt, pepper, onion and garlic are all pretty ordinary. They are in just about everything. Depending on your geographical location, or your predilections for eating Asian cuisine, fish sauce is pretty ordinary too. It is the balance struck here that is special. These basic flavor building blocks added to a whack ton of carrot, some chicken and some pork is alchemical. There’s no secret, exotic ingredient that really makes it all sing. These ingredients add up to flavor greater than what you would estimate. Delicious.
I would love to say that you can be a little bit extra health conscious and cook your cha gio in the oven. It is January, the time of resolutions, after all. I have had no success with these lovlies in the oven, even misted with a bit of oil in hopes of them crisping up or browning. My oven baked spring rolls were pale and unpalatably dry. This is really saying something too. There is almost as much veg in the filling as animal protein, it’s a filling destined to be succulent and moist. And they managed to come out dried out!
Mr says: These are way better than store bought spring rolls! Perfect for dipping!
This time last year: Greek Salad with Sugar Snaps
And the year before: Petite Poutine
And the year before that: Parmesan Chicken