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Vietnamese Spring Rolls

September 23, 2008
This recipe is really more of a Chinese/Vietnamese hybrid, because the insides are Vietnamese with some Chinese ingredients, and I used Chinese egg roll wrappers instead of the traditional Vietnamese rice paper spring roll wrappers because they are so much easier to work with.
Spring rolls:
7 1/2 oz very thin bean thread noodles (also known as cellophane or mung bean noodles)
5 or so dried Chinese black mushrooms
1 T vegetable or canola oil
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups grated carrots (4 to 5 carrots)
2 stalks of celery, diced into 1/4″ pices
1 medium head napa cabbage, thinly shredded
2 T Asian fish sauce
2 T sugar
2 T soy sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
Salt, to taste
1 small can bamboo shoots, drained
3 big handfuls fresh bean sprouts
25 (8-inch) square frozen spring roll pastry wrappers made with wheat flour, thawed
2 t cornstarch mixed with 2 T water
About 6 cups vegetable oil for frying spring rolls
For nuoc cham dipping sauce:
5 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce (preferably from Phu Quoc)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh Thai chiles (2 to 3 inches; preferably red; including seeds), thinly sliced crosswise
Directions:
Place bean thread noodles and black mushrooms in separate bowls.  Boil enough water to cover bean thread noodles and mushrooms, pour to cover the ingredients and let each soak for 10 minutes.  Drain noodles and chop into 1″ pieces.  Drain mushrooms and squeeze out excess water, then finely chop.
Heat 1 T oil in wok over medium high heat.  Add shallot and garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.  Add carrot, cabbage and celery and stir fry over high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until vegetables are starting to get tender.  Add bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, mushrooms, fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce, salt and pepper and stir fry 1-2  minutes until mixture is warmed through.  Remove from heat and stir in bean thread noodles until mixture is incorporated.  Put mixture in colander and drain excess water.  Let mixture cool to room temperature (can be made up to 2 days ahead).
Combine all nuoc cham dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
To make spring rolls: combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl.  Place one egg roll wrapper with a corner pointing towards you on a work surface. Spread a scant 1/4 cup filling horizontally, slightly below the middle of the wrapper.  Fold bottom corner over filling, then fold in side corners. Dip your finger in the cornstarch mixture and brush it along the corner of the wrapper farthest from you.  Roll the spring roll closed, making sure it is tightly wrapped, and seal. Repeat until you have used all of the wrappers (you may have some filling left over).
Deep fry spring rolls in 6 cup cooking oil, heated to 360°, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels and serve with dipping sauce.
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