Festive Food: Thai Spring Rolls

I know, I know. The time for festivity has passed; we are all supposed to be resolved to salads and elliptical trainers and finally finding the floor in our apartment under that mountain of dirty clothes. But perhaps you need a cold-weather indulgence, even in January.

Perhaps your best friends are visiting, all the way from California and Connecticut. That’s an occasion worth celebrating. You need a glass of sparkling wine and these delicious spring rolls, a few hours to catch up together, preferably in the kitchen. (Followed by a few rounds of Taboo, because you’ve known each other so long and so well that you clearly make the best team ever, and the boys you play against won’t know what hit ‘em.)

My friend Laura and her husband Adam hosted this lovely party featuring recipes they learned at a Thai cooking school on their honeymoon. These spring rolls were great for a group effort—Laura and Adam had the filling all ready for us to help with rolling. (Then Adam did the frying while the rest of us gossiped and looked at photo albums.)

This spring roll recipe is vegetarian, filled with glass noodles, bean sprouts, shitake mushrooms, and julienned carrots, but you could probably add whatever you desire—barely-cooked shrimp? Ribbons of sauteed pork? Matchsticks of extra-firm tofu?

While they’re not exactly healthy, these rolls are fun for a special occasion—and being together with your very favorite people is certainly something worth celebrating.

Thai Spring Rolls
Adapted from the Baan Thai Cookery School
makes about 15 spring rolls

vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
75 grams glass noodles/vermicelli
about 4 oz shitake mushrooms, minced
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. of oyster sauce
2 handfulls of bean sprouts
4 spring onions, chopped

spring roll wrappers (we used rather large egg roll wrappers, which is why they bubbled, I think)
1 beaten egg (for wrapping)
full 48-oz bottle vegetable oil

sweet chili sauce (for dipping)

Follow package directions for stir-frying glass noodles in a wok (softening in water first if needed) until they are just barely soft enough to eat, the remove from wok and set aside.

Heat a splash of vegetable oil in the wok and stir fry garlic until golden, then add the mushrooms and carrots. Cook until softened. Add fish sauce, oyster sauce and sugar, stirring until coated, and softened noodles. Add bean sprouts and spring onions.  Stir fry until the fresh vegetables are just cooked through.  Set aside mixture.

Lay out one spring roll wrapper on a plate, rotating it so the point is toward you and the wrapper is making a diamond shape, not a square. Brush edges of wrapper with beaten egg. Add a heaping tablespoon of filling (less if you’re using small spring roll wrappers) and turn up bottom corner of the diamond wrapper to cover the filling. (See image above.) Trying to avoid air pockets, fold in the two sides and roll up like a tight burrito with a triangle flap on top. The egg wash will hold it closed.

Once you have them folded, fill and 8 qt pot with at least 3-4 inches of vegetable oil for deep frying. Heat oil to 375 F. (When the oil seems hot, test by dropping a small piece of spring roll wrapper into the oil. If it floats and sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.  Deep fry 3-4 spring rolls at a time—do not crowd the pot. Flip them (or rotate and hold with a metal spoon) once one side is brown. Remove from pot to a paper towel to drain.

The spring rolls can be placed in the oven on a cookie sheet at low heat (around 200) to keep them warm while a second or third batch is frying.

Serve with sweet chili sauce for dipping.

In Thai, vegetarian

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