chicken in rice (khao mok gai) low-fat version

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Low-Fat Version of Chicken in Rice (Khao Mok Gai)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Marinating time: 2-12 hours
Cooking time: 30 minutes

8 chicken drumsticks with the skin removed
1 package Lobo brand Spicy Chicken-in-Rice Seasoning Mix (2 seasoning packets inside)
8 oz or 250g Greek style yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups white jasmine rice (Recommend basmati rice, if available)
250 ml coconut cream or coconut cream substitute
1 ½ cups water
1 shallot or red onion, sliced and fried (optional)

Equipment: a large pot with a tight fitting lid. If you haven’t got a tight fitting lid, cover the top of the pot with a sheet of tin foil that’s slightly wider than the pot. Then place the lid on top of that.

DSC053261. Remove the skin from the chicken legs. To do this, grasp the top and the bottom of the leg with paper towels and pull down towards the bony end, just like pulling down one’s pants! Pull off the bits of fat. Discard the skin and fat.

Cook’s Note: You can add other chicken pieces like breasts and thighs, but remember they cook at different rates from the legs. It’s better to use all breasts, all thighs, or all legs so that you can control the cooking time.

DSC053282. Open one Lobo seasoning packet in a bowl and spread it on the chicken pieces. Add the yogurt and mix it in thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Cook’s Note: Wear a disposable glove to season the chicken because you don’t want to stain your hands with the turmeric in the seasoning packet.

DSC053313. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and carefully put them in the hot oil. Do not discard the marinade. Fry the chicken pieces briefly in the oil just to brown them. Remove chicken and set aside.

4. To the hot oil in the skillet add the rice, half the remaining packet of seasoning, and scrape in the remainder of the marinade. Stir fry the rice until it is translucent, about 10 minutes, and the seasonings have been absorbed. If it looks dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/4 cup of water.

5. Return the chicken to the skillet. Add the coconut cream and the 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low so that the chicken and rice can cook together, about 15-20 minutes.

Cook’s Note: Do NOT open the pot lid to check it. Only open it after 15 minutes. Taste to see if the rice is cooked. If it isn’t and the rice seems dry, add 1/4 cup of water and cover the pot again. Cook 5 minutes more or until all the water is absorbed.

6. Serve with fried shallots on top of the rice for garnish, if desired. Add sliced cucumber on the side and a sweet-vinegar dipping sauce. This is an easy one to try:

Sweet-Vinegar Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2-4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic, chopped fine

In a small saucepan heat the vinegar, salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic as fine as possible. Mashing the garlic with a fork helps to make it paste like, even finer. Put the onion and garlic in a small bowl. Pour the cooled vinegar sauce over the onion and garlic. Serve over chicken.

the joy of eating

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I’ve been thinking all week about the pohpia, the fresh spring rolls at Coffee Bean by Dao, Paradise Park. They are a mouthful of minced pork, shrimp, noodles, and fresh basil chiffonade all wrapped up in a chewy rice noodle wrap, then sprinkled with a spicy green chili nam jim dipping sauce. Just pop the whole thing in your mouth. The first bite is spicy, and then you chew, chew chew, and your tongue wraps around  the shrimp, the pork, the noodles,  and the sharp fresh taste of basil. It’s comfort food that soothes the senses, and if you feel even the slightest bit guilty, don’t.

yum khai dao, a thai fried egg salad

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I love the delicious irony that I live in Thailand but I find Thai recipes via the internet. This one is from Food 52. A yum (pronounced with the same vowel sound as in but) is a warm cooked salad, this one featuring two fried eggs. It is sour, salty, sweet and should have been spicy but I left out the chilies because I can’t eat anything spicy. I forgot the onion in this picture. This recipe calls for palm sugar, which is sold in small round cakes at Asian markets. If palm sugar is not available, substitute brown sugar.

You’ll need:
2 large eggs, room temperature
Oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Chinese celery, with stems and leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, with stems and leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar syrup (recipe to follow)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 medium onion cut on the grain
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 fresh Thai chilies, thinly sliced (remove seeds if less heat is desired), optional
4 leaves romaine lettuce (also called cos), chopped

1. Fry the eggs. In a medium saucepan, fill the bottom with vegetable oil to about 1/4 inch level. Heat the oil until it is smoking. While the oil is heating, crack each egg open into a small bowl. When the oil begins to smoke, turn the heat down to medium at once. Carefully pour the egg as close as possible to the oil. It will crackle and swell. Pour in the second egg. When the edges turn brown, in about 45 seconds, use a slotted spoon to flip the eggs. The eggs will cook quickly, about 45 seconds, but go by appearance as to how soft or hard you want the egg yolks. Drain them on paper toweling and pat the top dry with another sheet.

Cook’s Note: Make sure the bowl is absolutely dry before you crack the egg open in it, because you are going to pour the egg into the hot oil and any water in the bowl will boil up when it comes in contact with the hot oil.

2. Make the salad dressing. Drain off the oil. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the syrup, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, onions, and chilies, if using. Heat just 15 seconds then remove from heat.

3. Assemble the salad. Slice the cooked eggs into quarters and return to the pot. If the egg yolks are runny, fine, if not, don’t worry. Add the cilantro and Chinese celery. Mix thoroughly.

4. Serve. On a plate, spread the chopped lettuce. Spoon the egg mixture on top and eat the yum khai dao with hot rice.

Palm Sugar Syrup
1 palm sugar cake (substitute 1/4 cup brown sugar)
5 tablespoons water

Coarsely chop the palm sugar cake. Put it in a small pot with the water. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let it cool before using. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

thai grilled beef salad (yum neua)

DSC02049 Thai Grilled Beef Salad (America’s Test Kitchen) America’s Test Kitchen has come up with another adaptation of a Thai recipe that tastes authentic. Even my husband says so, and for a Thai, that is true praise indeed. I was aiming for the beef to be undercooked  because putting it in the sauce after grilling cooks it further. It’s a combination of resting plus the lime juice that completes the cooking, I think. This salad serving suggestion is with cucumber, which lessens the heat of the chile. You can also serve it with tomato slices. Another idea is to plate the salad on shredded lettuce or serve it with lettuce on the side to made steak “sandwiches.” The Test Kitchen folks say to pass the paprika-cayenne and roasted rice at table, but this is never done in Thailand. Yum Neua always arrives at table ready to eat, juicy tender meat in a sauce that’s a perfect balance of sour, salty, minty and spicy. Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 5 minutes Serves 4 to 6 Ingredients 1 teaspoon sweet paprika 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon white rice (You’ll only use 1/2 tablespoon. I used roasted rice available in small jars at Asian groceries) 3 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes) 2 tablespoons fish sauce 2 tablespoons water 1/2 -1 teaspoon sugar 1 (1 1/2 pound) flank steak, trimmed (I couldn’t find flank steak so I bought London broil instead) Salt and white pepper, coarsely ground 4 shallots, sliced thin 1 1/2cups fresh mint leaves, sliced into slivers 1 1/2cups fresh cilantro leaves, minced 1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin into rounds 1 seedless English cucumber, sliced 1/4 inch thick on bias Instructions

  1. Heat paprika and cayenne in 8-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, shaking pan, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to small bowl. You will only use 1/4 teaspoon of the paprika mixture. Put up the leftover for another day.
  2. [Cook’s Note: Skip this step if you have roasted rice in a jar] Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat, add rice, and toast, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to second small bowl and cool for 5 minutes. Grind rice with spice grinder, mini food processor, or mortar and pestle until it resembles fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds (you should have about 1 tablespoon rice powder).
  3. Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, water, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon toasted paprika mixture in large bowl. Taste. If too sour, add another 1/2 teaspoon sugar and set aside. Lightly salt and pepper the steak.
  4. ATK’s directions FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes. Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  5. ATK’s directions FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). Place steak over hot part of grill and cook until beginning to char and beads of moisture appear on outer edges of meat, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip steak and continue to cook on second side until charred and center registers 125 degrees, about 5 minutes longer.
  6. Foodie Joanie’s directions for an indoor grill: On my George Foreman grill, I found that 5 minutes was too long. The meat came out medium-well done and I wanted it medium rare. I recommend 2-3 minutes instead.
  7. Transfer to plate, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.
  8. Slice meat against the grain  into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer sliced steak to bowl with fish sauce mixture. Add shallots, mint, cilantro, chile, and 1/2 tablespoon rice powder; toss to combine. Transfer to platter lined with cucumber slices. Serve, passing remaining rice powder and toasted paprika mixture separately.  I forgot the cucumbers and served this dish with two old favorites–sesame rice and tom khaa or coconut milk soup— and one new favorite, Thai cabbage salad.

khao soi or chiang mai chicken curry noodles, low fat and low carb version

khao soi

This dish is the signature specialty of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. I made a few low fat/low carb adjustments to it like swapping chicken breasts for thighs and using whole wheat linguine instead of Chinese egg noodles. However, the key to this dish is the curry-flavored soup. For more authentic flavor, I used dried red Thai chilies although guajillo is recommended in the original recipe. I also used full-fat coconut milk because it is better tasting, but using “lite” coconut milk will surely lower the fat, carbs, and calories in this dish even more. The flavors in this soup should be predominantly coconut-spicy, but smooth; slightly salty, sour, and barely sweet, is my preference. Fish sauce will give it a hint of anchovy. Aroy.

Chicken Khao Soi (adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2013)

Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

Khao Soi Paste
4 -6 dried chilies, stemmed, halved, and seeded, if less heat is desired (or Mexican guajillo chilies)
2 medium shallots, halved
8 garlic cloves
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro stems (save the leaves for toppings)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder

Soup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, halved lengthwise
1 pound Chinese egg noodles (or whole wheat linguine)
3 tablespoons (or more) fish sauce (such as Tiparos)
1 tablespoon (packed) palm sugar or light brown sugar, optional

Suggested Toppings
Sliced red onion, bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, crispy fried onions or shallots, chili oil, crispy fried Chinese wonton noodles, and lime wedges

Preparation:

Make khao soi paste. Place chilies in a small bowl and pour boiling water over them. Let stand 30 minutes until softened. Remove the chilies and reserve the soaking liquid. If desired, remove the seeds to make the dish less spicy.

Meanwhile, boil a large pot of water to cook the noodles.

In a blender, purée the chilies, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, and 2 tablespoons soaking liquid in a food processor. Add more by tablespoonfuls, if needed, blending until smooth. You can add up to 6 tablespoons total.

Make the soup. Heat oil in a large heavy dutch pot over medium heat. Add the khao soi paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened, 4-6 minutes. Add coconut milk and broth. Bring to a boil; add chicken. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, 20-25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool slightly; slice meat into 1/4 inch thick chunks.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

Return chicken to the pot, adding 3 tablespoons fish sauce, and sugar (if using) to soup. Taste and season with more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Spoon soup and noodles into bowls and serve with toppings.

last night in bangkok

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For our last feast in Bangkok Andy took us to Seacon Square to Chiseng Lamian, a Chinese noodle shop where they make their own noodles and dumplings. Without a pasta machine too. We had the soup dumplings, though I must say they were nothing like the ones we had  at the Pacificana in Brooklyn. One bite, and a burst of soup spurted into the mouth, perfectly warm without being scalding hot. However, the Chiseng noodles in the pork noodle soup  were perfectly al dente, the baby mustard greens just crisp tender, and the pork was perfection: it held up to the chopstick until placed in the mouth then it was tender without being dry or chewy. We all ordered the Thai iced lemongrass-ginger spiced tea.  Without the ubiquitous condensed milk. It was definitely home-made, with frozen tea-ice cubes. I thought I tasted cloves in it.  For dessert, I ate the frozen ice cubes. By the end of the meal they had turned into the consistency of tea-flavored shaved ice.

gai yang roulade with corn grits

Sometimes food gets boring. Every night it becomes the same old, same old. So I tried spicing up a chicken fillet by rolling it. So revolutionary. Here’s a chicken breast fillet rolled up in a gai yang marinade adapted from an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.

First  brine 3 boneless skinless chicken breast fillets in 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 4 cups water 30-60 minutes. Slice each breast in half horizontally and pat dry. Place each fillet between two sheets of plastic and pound each one to 1/4 inch thickness. In a large bowl combine

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Marinate the fillets in the garlic-ginger mixture for at least 30 minutes. Scrape most of the marinade from one side and paste in the center. Roll up around the garlic-ginger paste and place seam side down on prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until the inside of each roulade measures 160˚F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from oven and slice into pinwheels.

Serve with yellow corn grits. So simple! This recipe is from Zea Rotisserie and Brewery.

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup yellow corn grits
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1/2-1  tablespoon salt or to taste (use more or less salt depending on whether the butter was salted)
  • 1 ear grilled corn, kernels removed

Strip off most of the husk and silk. Soak in water to cover 15 minutes. If you don’t have a grill, broil the corn in the broiler for 15 minutes or until the kernels turn brown. Set aside to cool

Bring liquids to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in the grits. Add butter and salt. Cook at simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. Cut the corn off the cooled cob, and crumble in your fingers. At the end of cooking, stir in the corn.

thai beef soup with buckwheat noodles

I was walking through the courtyard earlier this week, taking a shortcut through the basement, when I smelled star anise and cinnamon. I thought instantly of Thai beef soup or kao lao. I knew I had to make it this week, even though it’s been years since I last tried. From my years living in Thailand, I know that when it is served with noodles then it’s called kway tieow. I decided to cook it, kway tieow style with Japanese soba or buckwheat noodles, which are higher in fiber and protein, iron and calcium than the traditional rice noodles. Soba like rice noodles is gluten free.  There is  a nutrition comparison of soba and rice noodles on skipthepie.org. If you’re simply watching the calories, as I am, then it’s important to consider that a half cup soba has twice as many calories as rice noodles.

Thai Beef Soup (Kao Lao) with Buckwheat Noodles (Soba)

Makes 4 servings

For Cooking

7 cups water
1 lb stewing beef, boneless, trimmed of visible fat, and cut into chunks
1 whole star anise or 4 cloves star anise
2 whole sticks cinnamon
3-4 whole peeled large garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons molasses or thick dark soy sauce

For Serving

1 cup fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and picked over
2 cups buckwheat noodles, cooked al dente
Fish sauce
Sugar
Sambal or chili paste
1 lime, quartered
2 scallions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/3-1/2 cup cilantro, minced

Combine the beef, star anise, cinnamon, and garlic in 7 cups water. Cover loosely. Put two wooden chopsticks across the top of the pot and rest the lid on top of the chopsticks. Bring to a simmer on the stove. After 1 hour, stir the soup and skim the broth of large floating particles. You want a clear broth with tiny particles suspended in the soup when it is stirred. Remove the chopsticks and cover the pot. Once covered, the pot will boil vigorously and some water will boil out. Continue cooking on low heat for 1/2 hour.

Add the fish sauce, salt, sugar, soy sauce, and molasses. Taste. It should be slightly salty and sweet. Adjust seasonings, if you wish. Continue cooking on low heat to develop the flavors, until beef is tender and falls apart easily with a fork, about 2 hours. Discard the cinnamon sticks, garlic, and star anise.  Serve.

To serve, divide bean sprouts and noodles among 4 large bowls. Ladle beef soup over. Serve with little saucers of fish sauce, sugar, sambal, lime, scallions, and cilantro at the table, to season each individual bowl according to taste.

It’s gai yang, but where’s the khao neow and somtam?

We’ve been good, AJ and I. Since we’ve been back in New York City on the low carb-low fat diet we haven’t had skin, chicken skin that is, for the last four months. It was time for a treat. I figured if I’m going to break the diet, then I should make it worthwhile. I decided to make  gai yang or roast chicken, Thai style, because I found this recipe on America’s Test Kitchen. It didn’t disappoint; the flavors were authentic, the chicken juicy. It just wasn’t fiery enough!

Purists will know that gai yang is traditionally served with papaya salad (somtam)and sticky rice (khao neow). Well, I  committed a heresy. Instead of papaya salad, we had a spinach, strawberry, and hearts of palm salad with lemon-poppy seed dressing. Instead of the sticky rice, I made stir-fried baby bok choy in garlic and ginger and seasoned it with Maggi sauce. Thus, I assuaged the guilt with some low calorie veggie sides.

The original recipe called for grilling on an outdoor barbecue. But since I live in a city apartment, I have parted ways from the original and broiled/baked the chicken instead. I have also added two chilies to the dipping sauce. What’s a dipping sauce without some heat?

Gai Yang or Thai Style Roast Chicken

Ingredients

Chicken and Brine

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup table salt
  • 4 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts about 12 ounces each (I used 1 chicken breast and 2 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 small cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 chilies, chopped (optional)

Rub

  • 12 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (1/4 cup)
  • 1 piece fresh ginger (about 2 inches), minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Instructions

1. To brine the chicken: Dissolve sugar and salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken in brine and refrigerate at least 30 minutes but not longer than 1 hour. Rinse chicken under cool running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. For the dipping sauce: Whisk ingredients in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
3. To make and apply the rub: Combine all rub ingredients in small bowl; work mixture with fingers to thoroughly combine. Slide fingers between skin and meat to loosen skin, taking care not to detach skin. Rub about 2 tablespoons mixture under skin. Thoroughly rub even layer of mixture onto all exterior surfaces, including bottom and sides. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place chicken in medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate while preparing grill.
4. To broil the chicken: Cover the broiling pan with foil for easy clean up. Spray with cooking spray. Place the chicken pieces skin side up and broil 10 minutes or until the skin is golden or blackened. Turn the heat to 350˚F and put the pan in the oven to finish cooking, about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F  160˚F on an instant read thermometer.

Baked Spring Rolls with Spicy Dipping Sauce

I bought the Low Fat No Fat Thai cookbook (Lorenz Books, 2006) from Asia Books here in Bangkok last week. I tried two recipes so far,  and this is one of them. Unfortunately, these recipes are not kitchen-tested and I’m not quite sure the nutrition facts are trustworthy either. If I followed this recipe exactly, these baked spring rolls are supposed to be 46 calories each. But since I fooled around with the ingredients, that figure is not valid anyway. What I liked about this version of spring rolls is that it is baked, not fried. Though the result was chewy rather than crisp,  AJ asked for more. They weren’t bad. They even  look authentic.

When I make spring rolls, I use whatever ingredients are on hand. Some ingredients I’ve found that are just delicious are Chinese cabbage (Napa is recommended though regular cabbage, shredded in a food processor, will do nicely), scallions, tofu (firm, sliced into thin strips), bean sprouts, and shiitake mushrooms. If you like meat inside them, add a cup or cooked ground beef, chicken or pork, and a cup of cooked shredded crabmeat or cooked chopped shrimp. Notice I emphasize the word cooked. This cookbook neglected to mention that step in the Cha Gio or Vietnamese spring roll recipe but added that step in the Thai Spring Roll recipe. Having made spring rolls before, I knew that the meats have to be cooked before assembling the rolls or you run into the dangers of undercooked food.

Now, what, you may ask, is the difference between Chinese and Thai spring rolls? Well, very little, I should say, since the Thai borrowed the recipe from the Chinese and made it their own. The only technical difference is that the Thai roll their spring rolls in a cigar shape and of course,  like to serve them with sweet and spicy dipping sauces, whereas the Chinese prefer sweet and sour with mustard on the side.

1 cup or 1 bundle vermicelli (also called bean threads; fresh is preferred)
1 cup cloud ear mushrooms (fresh is preferred), chopped
1 cup ground pork, cooked, drained, and cooled slightly
1/2 cup grated carrot
salt and pepper to taste
sweet chili dipping sauce, optional (available from Asian supermarkets)

Egg wash
1 egg white
1 teaspoon rice bran oil (substitute sunflower or canola)
1 teaspoon water

1 package Chinese spring rolls (available from Asian supermarkets) 20-24 per package. The recipe above will make about 20 rolls.

Prepare the ingredients. If using dried vermicelli and dried cloud ear mushrooms, soak them separately in warm water for 30 minutes. Drain the bean threads and snip with kitchen scissors to 2 inch lengths. Drain the cloud ear mushrooms and chop.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Line a baking tray with parchment or silicone mat.


Fill the wrappers. In a large bowl, combine vermicelli, mushrooms, pork, and carrot. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Fill a small bowl with water. To make a spring roll, separate two wrappers at a time from the package. One will tear but two will  not. Then separate the two. Spread one wrapper on the work surface and add two spoonfuls of filling. Spread it out, lengthwise. Fold up the bottom and then the sides. Roll up the wrapper. Dip your finger in the water, moisten the remaining edge, and seal. Place seam side down on a plate and continue peeling, filling, folding, and rolling.

Cook’s Tip: Dip your finger in the water and moisten the sides of the wrapper too. Fold up the bottom and then the two sides. The sides will stick together and will make it easier to roll up the wrapper.

Bake. Combine ingredients for the egg wash in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the cylinders and ends of each spring roll with the egg wash. Turn to be sure each roll is thoroughly coated. Transfer to prepared baking tray. Bake 25 minutes, turning once halfway through baking.

Serve. Spring rolls should be served immediately with dipping sauces. Usually one is sweet and spicy and the other is spicy and sour. The chilies for the dipping sauce are traditionally pounded in a mortar and pestle.  A food processor will not achieve the same consistency but here’s a trick. Instead, I froze the chilies and rinsed them in cold water to defrost them. Then I chopped up the chilies and smashed them with the flat of a large knife, dragging the blade across them. I did this a few more times until the texture of the chilies was coarse.

View the Smilebox collage below for wrapping and rolling the spring rolls and making the nam jihm  dipping sauce.

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