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Friday, June 6, 2014

Cha Gio/Egg Rolls/Nem Ran

 As I continue my Asian Persuasion, I have landed yet again in Vietnam, where I have tinkered before, but never to this glorious extent.
Cha Gio or as they are more commonly known in France, Nems, or Egg Rolls, have been on my list of recipes to try again but actually succeed at.  My nimble 30 year old fingers can now expertly shape falafel, samosas, and pakoras, so egg rolls shouldn't be such a mystery.
They are NOT a mystery, but a rediscovery!  The best nems I'd ever had in my life were from that little Cambodian restaurant where I used to live in Picardy, Le Angkor.  I don't have very many homemade eggroll memories from Asian friends..I actually have more Chile Relleno and Ceviche memories than anything else.
Mmmm Chiles Rellenos...on a side note, I may have found the perfect European substitute for California Chiles used in Chile Rellenos, but that will come later on after I figure out how to make Queso Fresco.
Back to my Cha Gio!
I received my Kenwood Meat Grinder yesterday and after cleaning it I just couldn't wait until Friday to be able to actually put it to good use.  Of course, I was expecting the lovely auto-gift, so I casually had the mint, spring roll wrappers, wood ear mushrooms, cellophane noodles, and random turkey pieces ready to go.  All I needed was to have those turkey pieces ground into something homogenous and cooked to put into my eggroll mixture.
That thing is amazing!  Sure it's very loud and very slow, but I don't really mind waiting 3 minutes for 1 lb of meat to be ground with quality steel cutters.
Ooh I liiike it!
So once you figure out the correct nem rolling technique, the secret is really in the filling.  Actually, the correct rolling technique is just as important as the quality and flavor of the filling.  Maybe that's why eggrolls may seem scary to beginners (as I once was).  You can get one part spot on but completely screw up the other part, which ruins the whole experience.
Recipe inspired by KL's Cooking with Mom.
Yield exactly 40 Cha Gio
1 packet (40) Spring Roll wrappers
1 lb ground turkey (or mix of turkey, chicken, crab, shrimp or pork)
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 section (2oz) bean thread noodles, soaked, drained, and cut
1 cup (80g - 2.8oz) dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked, drained, and sliced
4 medium carrots, julienned
1 small kohlrabi (or cabbage), julienned
1/2 onion, diced
1 2-egg thin omelet, sliced
1 handful chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp ground white pepper
1 egg yolk
oil for frying (I used a mix of sunflower and canola)
1 beaten egg white for sealing

For wrapping:
Romaine or Batavia leaves
Mint leaves

Nuac Mam Cham (Dipping Sauce) for 20 Nems:
2 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
3 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 piment oiseau (birds eye chili) chopped and seeded
1 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice

1.  Brown the ground meat with the 1 tbsp oil and dark soy sauce until fully cooked.  Drain and let cool in a mixing bowl.
2.  Add the cut bean thread noodles, mushrooms, carrots, kohlrabi, onions, omelet, cilantro, fish sauce, sugar, white pepper, and yolk to the ground meat and stir well to mix everything evenly.
3.  Assemble.  Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on one corner of a wrapper.
4.  Tuck in the bottom corner and roll halfway into the egg roll.
5.  Fold the sides in, then tuck and roll until you reach the last corner.  Brush some egg white wash on the corner before finishing the roll so that it seals.  For a more native description of how to do this, check out SteamyKitchen.
They should be tightly rolled as so
6.  Fry.  I realized I didn't have enough sunflower oil to do any frying as I was already 3/4 the way done rolling my nems.  You think that's going to stop me?  I had enough canola oil to complete the deal.
Here's a funny story.  The French think you will be poisoned if you use canola oil for anything other than seasoning.  They have strict indications to never use it for cooking.
Bah.. nobody else in the world follows those rules anyway.
In hind site.. it works very well for frying.. although I probably wouldn't reuse the same oil.  I'd use fresh each time.  It darkened a bit toward the 40th spring roll.
Fry until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes, being sure to turn them at least once to check the other side.
7.  Reserve onto paper towels.

Serve hot with some batavia or romaine and mint leaves accompanied by a sexy hot dipping sauce.

These were crunchy, non greasy, full of freshness and flavor, and full of intense satisfaction.  They come very very close to the ones from Angkor so its nice to know that Yes I Can!
I froze over half of them and will reheat them in the oven when needed, as I do with samosas so they stay crunchy.  They are going to be killer on a Bo Bun Noodle salad!!
This is exactly what I was hoping for out of D-Day 2014!

* these can be GF if rice paper and GF soy sauce is used instead of spring roll paper.
See GF recipe here.
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1 comment:

  1. Food Never Felt So Good ........