Wood-ear mushrooms can join the mix: a dried brown fungus (had from Oriental stores) that needs a soak in water to soften before being chopped up. Totally optional here, but add a few to the stuffing if you have them. Nuoc cham dipping sauce is a must on wolfing; a wrapper’s delight.
For the filling, submerge the rice noodles in warm water until they turn soft, then drain them and chop them up. Mix the noodles with the remaining filling ingredients until thoroughly combined. Briefly dunk a rice paper in a plate of warm water and lift straight out and lay on a board - it will soften after a few seconds as it sits, without becoming too soft. Fold up one edge, then lay some of the prepared filling on this, compacting into a neat rectangular shape. Fold in both sides and roll up firmly to make a small and neat sausage-shaped parcel, maximum 2cm thick. Don’t roll them too tightly, as the parcels could split when fried. Line them up on a plate as you go and keep them covered with clingfilm. They’ll keep like this in the fridge for a few hours, until you want to fry them. Heat about a 4cm depth of oil in a wok or deep frying pan, then fry the parcels a few at a time until golden all over - making sure they don’t touch each other as they fry. Drain on kitchen roll and keep them warm in the oven. To eat, wrap the rolls in herbs and then a lettuce leaf. Scoff while still hot, dunking each mouthful into the dipping sauce.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.