How to make Vietnamese Spring Rolls

There are a few times throughout the year when spring rolls touch my heart. This is one of those times. The smell in the air from flowers and plants blooming, and the cool breeze to name a couple. This past weekend was one of those weekends where the weather was simply amazing; warm and breezy one day, cool the other. These feelings sparked something that I love to make and enjoy eating. Spring Rolls. Sit back and enjoy this recipe and the appetizer. They are fresh and really easy to make.

I make nearly 12 spring rolls and here is what I used.

Ingredients include:

  • shredded carrots (3)
  • angel hair or vermicelli pasta; 1/2 a box
  • shredded green onion (cut lengthwise) 4-5
  • cooked shrimp, sliced in half; nearly 15 (30 when sliced)
  • cilantro (1/2 bunch, chopped)
  • spring roll wrappers (12 or as many as you are going to make)

If you have reviewed the ingredients you can determine a few things; they are healthy, tasty, and easy to chop/dice/slice. Trust me, the only time intensive piece here is soaking the wrapper in warm water to allow softening for the wrapping.

Ready? Here we go.

Get your noodles cooking and boil as the box says. Drain and let cool. Cool is the message here on the noodles as you do not want to put warm or hot noodles in the wrapper.

As the noodles are cooking this is a great time to prepare your ingredients by chopping/slicing your ingredients. Because of the transparent wrapper, you can determine how you want to layout your ingredients. Do you want to guests to see shrimp on the outer layer, lettuce, carrot? You can be as creative as you want here. Keep slicing.
Cooled noodles, and veggies and shrimp ready to go? Good. Get ready to wrap.

When visiting an Asian market, you can find several types of wrappers. I use this type of wrapper. They are cheap, plentiful, and reliable.

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Submerge a wrapper in the water and move it around for a minute or two. You will begin to fill it soften. Please note that if you let it go too long, you might as well toss it because it will most likely tear in the wrapping process. (If it tears while wrapping, do not fear, just eat it.)

O.K. Wrapper is soft. Get it on a plate and lay it flat. Arrange Noodles, green onion, carrot, and cilantro in the mid to lower section of the wrapper. Fold the bottom area of the wrapper of the ingredients and begin to roll. Tuck in the sides, and continue to roll. The wrapper will seal itself.

Continue this process. Do not worry if you tear a few. This is the learning process as to how long you need to soak the water, as well as how much you can stuff these things.

I serve them with a sweet chili sauce. Enjoy.

Filipino Barbecue

I will be the first to admit that when my wife made this for me, it was wonderful. Anyone who knows me knows that I will do my own little twist to a recipe, enhance it, if you will. This recipe stems from my wife’s upbringing. In her house, barbecue is the dish. It was not chicken, ribs, or anything else you might expect as barbecue. When they talk barbecue, it means meat on a stick, and it is something amazing.

Filipino Barbecue Recipe

This recipe is way too simple, and it is awesome served with beer, rice, papaya salad, potato salad, or great on its own.

  • Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt (need a little fat), thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Wooden skewers (soaked for one hour or more)

Keep in my that this meat will end up on bamboo skewers so you will not want chunks of meat, and you will want thin slices of meat, possibly a 1/4 inch thick. Depending on the amount of pork and barbecue you are making, this process can take some time. Once you are done slicing, add the garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, pepper, and green onions to a large bowl, and whisk until the brown sugar is dissolved. Add in your pork, and toss to make sure all of the meat is coated.

I use a zip lock bag for this next step because I typically marinate the meat for 12-24 hours.
Add the meat to the bag and place in the refrigerator.

Once you are ready, sew them onto the skewers, about three slices per skewer. Heat  your grill, and cook the pork. You know when the sugars start to melt into the meat, become one, and look heavenly.

Keep in mind that these will go fast and trust me, you and your family are just going to love them. Enjoy.

Som Tam Recipe – Thai Papaya Salad

After spending a lovely day with my wife, I decided to invite my in-laws over for a Mother’s Day dinner. Seeing that my father-in-law is Filipino, I decided to make his yummy barbecue recipe, my egg rolls, a thai papaya salad that will rock your socks off, pancit with chicken and shrimp, and curry mussels. Sounds like a lot. It was.
Som Tam Recipe
I started off the family with a dozen or so egg rolls that I wrapped a few weeks back. My father-n-law said these were better than the Filipino ones, so I took that as a serious compliment. I kept the sauce for the egg rolls really simple. White vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground pepper.

Anyway, I am not posting about egg rolls, as I posted that on Seis de Mayo. Because I was making pork barbecue, I wanted to introduce something spicy, sweet, and tangy. Bring on the papaya salad. This has some intense flavors and smells so prepare yourself.

Ingredients include:

  • 1 young papaya (larger in length, green) commonly found in asian markets.
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (beware of the smell, but move on)
  • 3 TB of nam pla (I use the 3 crab brand)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 red thai peppers (spicy, so adjust to 1, 2, 3, or more)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Asian Green beans (optional)
  • peanuts (optional)

First peel the papaya. Once peeled, shred the papaya until thin strips. Once you have enough for your salad, add garlic, shrimp paste, tomatoes, beans, and thai peppers to a mortar and pound with a wooden pestle (I purchased both mortar and pestle at an asian market for six dollars). Do not pound too hard as you really just want to bring out the juices of the bean and tomatoes.

Add the papaya, fish sauce, peanuts, and sugar into the mortar and begin to use your pestle and a large spoon and begin to toss and mix. Transfer to serving plate and eat with rice, sticky rice, or fork and chopsticks. This dish brings great flavors, maybe not meant for everyone (most people at the table could not handle the intensity of the thai peppers, so adjust to your liking), however is great with barbecue.

Egg Rolls

As much as I wanted to throw down some Mexican recipes on Cinco de Mayo, I could not. My fridge had some tasty leftovers, and furthermore my wife and I had a night out on the town. As Cinco de Mayo passed, my craving for Mexican food (carne de asada, or tinga) turned into the flavors of Asia.

The night out was a great dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, of which I tried the Spicy Crispy Beef, and loved every bite. So on Seis de Mayo, I thought I would make egg rolls, spicy crispy beef, and a take on P.F. Chang’s garlic noodles.

My wife and I love egg rolls. Being part Filipino, she grew up on lumpia shanghai which are basically egg rolls with pork mixture, potato, shrimp, and green beans. These are very tasty, however I wanted to throw my own take on the lumpia.

I began with grinding up my pork butt. I believe the butt was nearly six pounds, of which yielded roughly seventy egg rolls.I use the food grinder which attaches to my Kitchen Aid. I spray the inside of the attachments with Pam cooking spray which makes things come out easier. Once I have the pork mixture, I season with lots of fresh ground pepper, salt, garlic powder, oyster sauce, and fish sauce. I then set this aside and let marinade before mixing in the other ingredients.

  • Six carrots, grated
  • One large onion, thinly sliced
  • Thin vermicelli noodles, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (3 packets)
  • 2 large baking potatoes, skinned, cubed, and cooked for 25 minutes, drain, and let cool

Once the meat is done marinating, mix in the above ingredients. Add more seasoning if you prefer.

Depending on how many egg rolls you will be wrapping, you will use 1-2 eggs and 1 TB of cornstarch for the sealant on your egg roll wrapper. Pay caution with what type of wrapper you use. I typically purchase the wrappers not are not thick, and are commonly found in the frozen section of your local asian mart.

Egg Roll MixLay the egg roll wrapper with one of the four corners facing you. Generously (depending on how big you want the egg roll) spoon in the mixture and roll over the wrapper and begin to roll, once or twice over. Then brush on the egg mixture, fold in the edges, and finalize the wrap.

Egg Roll MixWhile wrapping, heat a pot of canola oil on medium heat. Once the oil nears 375 degrees, drop an egg roll one at a time into the oil and fry until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes then eat with your favorite dipping sauce. My recommendations for sauces are the following:

  • Spicy
    • three chopped thai peppers
    • chopped garlic
    • 4TB sugar
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • Fish Sauce
  • Traditional Filipino
    • White Vinegar
    • chopped garlic
    • fresh ground pepper