It feels, on occasion, that we are about to be engulfed in an avalanche of spring rolls. These small, classic fried fingers of dough, a symbolic food of the Chinese Lunar New Year, have become a culinary obsession of nearly every Chinese chef, who readily packs them with his or her current fancy. There is no food, no flavoring, no garnish that doesn‛t find its way into a spring roll. Nor has this iconic food traveled well over the years. In its migration to and translation by the West, this petite, delicate food has become the thick, cumbersome log known as the egg roll.
It is time to rescue the Cantonese chun geun (or chun juan, as it is known elsewhere in China), “the roll of spring.” This symbolic food—its shape, reminiscent of a gold bar, is a harbinger of good fortune—is synonymous with New Year‛s Day and is enjoyed throughout the ensuing half-month celebration of the beginning of spring. The wrappers are the product of a special dough, and you can make your own to continue your understanding of core Chinese cooking. Or, you can buy good ready-made spring roll wrappers (see recipe) in Chinatown markets. You will need
To make the dough: In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Gradually add the water to the well and use your fingers to combine it with the flour until it is absorbed and a loose dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little more water. Knead the dough in the bowl for about 20 minutes, or until it becomes elastic. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 3 to 4 hours.
Wash and dry a griddle, making certain it is completely free of any vestiges of grease. Heat the griddle over low heat. When it is hot, grasp a large handful of dough from the bowl, hold it up, and rotate your wrist in a constant, slow motion. Keep the dough upward, working it with your fingers and palm. Then quickly press the dough onto the center of the hot griddle, using a circular motion, and then just as quickly pull back, leaving a thin, rough layer of dough about
The dough will begin to dry at its edges in 10 to 12 seconds, which means the wrapper is ready. Carefully peel the wrapper from the griddle and remove it to a large plate.
Repeat until you have made
To make the filling: Place the shrimp and pork in separate small bowls. Add
Place the wrappers and beaten eggs near the filling ingredients. Lay a wrapper on a large, flat plate. Add together, one at a time,
Heat the wok over high heat for 1 minute. Add the peanut oil and heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Cook
Turn off the heat, remove the spring rolls with the strainer, and drain them briefly over a bowl. Then transfer them to a heated plate and serve. Accompany with the chili-mustard condiment.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Chronicle Books.