Asian night!

Ever walk through the grocery store looking for something specific and then have an a-ha moment and change your mind?

That hasn’t happened to me lately. But I did have something similar happen not too long ago!

I was on my way home from a Saturday errand day with my mom and she needed to stop at a grocery store. Since I don’t shop at that store often, I took a few minutes to look around and see if there was anything interesting on sale. Lo and behold, there was a gigantic display of sushi on special for 50 per cent off! They had just been packaged that morning, and they were already on clearance. Score! I’m not a huge sushi eater. I don’t like fish, but I do love the vegetarian rolls. Alex is pretty adventurous and will try pretty much anything. We haven’t had sushi lately – mostly because there isn’t a sushi restaurant closer than 40 minutes away, and we never think to go there for dinner – so I was in the mood for some Asian fare. I picked up three kinds of sushi: avocado, spicy jalapeno roll and spicy California roll for us to try. I already had frozen edamame from Costco, so it was just a matter of another little appetizer to round off our Asian-inspired feast. Racking my brain to come up with something, it dawned on me. My favourite thing to order at Japanese/Thai restaurants? Spring rolls! I had almost everything I needed, except for bean sprouts and egg roll wrappers. Perfect! Image

Spring rolls are pretty easy to customize. I looked up a few different recipes and modified this one to suit our tastes and what we had in the fridge already. Here’s what you need to make about eight large spring rolls:

– A pack of spring roll or egg roll wrappers (usually found in the produce section of the grocery store. I opted for the larger egg roll variety because they’re easier to roll and great for tons of other apps, like the buffalo chicken egg rolls I made a couple weeks ago! Store the rest in a zip-loc bag in the fridge.)
– 1 cup of chopped carrots
– 2 cups of shredded cabbage. I used leftover bok choy
– a giant handful of bean sprouts
– a teaspoon of pepper
– two teaspoons of minced garlic
– four to five tablespoons of soy sauce
– a couple of chopped green onions
– about half a pound of ground beef or pork. I used a combination of both that I had already cooked and leftover from pasta the night before.
– four tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided

1. If your meat is raw, brown it in a frying pan. Drain and set aside. If you’re using meat that’s already cooked, skip to step 2.

2. Heat two tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the minced garlic. Fry until golden brown and fragrant, about two minutes. Side note: I usually use a garlic press or chop up my garlic really finely, but I saw a gigantic container of minced garlic at Costco for FIVE DOLLARS and couldn’t pass it up. I mean! It’s so convenient, and what a deal. About a half a tablespoon of minced garlic equals one garlic clove, in case you’re wondering.
Image3. Add the carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts, green onions, pepper, soy sauce and stir well. Saute for about two or three minutes.
Image4. Once combined, add the cooked beef and/or pork to meld the flavours. Transfer to a bowl and let the mixture cool while you prepare the wrapping station. Note: I learned the hard way that assembling the egg rolls does not work when the filling is hot. Give it lots of time to cool.

5. You’ll need three plates for this next part: one small plate with a bit of water, a large plate for wrapping and a large plate to keep the wrapped spring rolls.Image6. Lay a wrapper in front of you with a corner pointing toward you. Spread two or three tablespoons of the filling horizontally in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your fingers in the water and line all edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling and gently press down. Fold in both sides of the wrapper. Roll the spring roll up toward the top of the wrapper and seal all of the edges with water.
Image7. When all of your spring rolls are assembled, you’re ready to fry! These probably would be great baked too, but I was opting for authenticity over health in this case. 😉 Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in the frying pan until it’s hot. Turn the heat down to medium. Lay the spring rolls in the pan in a single layer and fry on all sides until they’re golden brown.

Image8. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and pat with paper towels to absorb the excess oil and serve with your favourite dipping sauce (I recommend sweet chili or plum sauce!).
ImageThis is an awesome basic recipe. They were perfect when dipped into sweet chili sauce, but when plain, they could have used an extra kick. I think next time I’ll chop up a chili pepper really fine and add it in for a little bit of heat. But you could certainly customize these in any way – add more veggies, or even shrimp! They were the perfect addition to our Asian-inspired dinner.

spring roll inside

They were crispy on the outside and had the perfect amount of crunch on the inside. Maybe next time I’ll get really adventurous and try to make my own sushi! 😉

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