Thursday, March 25, 2010

Chinese Rice Rolls

While I was in the realm of wrapping with last night's dinner, I got to remembering about one of my favorite breakfast items from Taiwan.  I am not a huge fan of breakfast because I am not usually hungry first thing in the morning.  And when I do have breakfast, I go for the savory, not sweet, category.  When I was living in Taiwan, there were two breakfast stops I would make.  One was across from my office, in what was basically a garage with stacks and stacks of bamboo steamers.  They would only be open until about 10:00am and they only sold pork dumplings and spicy cold noodles.  I would sometimes go and buy a few pork dumplings for breakfast, which they would serve up in a plastic baggy with a little soy and vinegar sauce.  And at the same time pick up the cold noodles and save them for lunch.  I think it was probably US$2.00 for both.  
My other favorite was served out of a cart.  It was a rice roll with dried shredded pork, chinese fried donut, and some pickled radish inside.  I remember on one of my work trips back to Taiwan, I skipped the hotel breakfast knowing I would find a cart on the walk to the office where I could buy my rice roll and eat it on the way.  My co-worker was shocked by my roadside purchase.  That was many years ago, and on our recent trip back to Taiwan I found the carts were no longer.  We did find a small shop around the corner from our hotel serving just my kind of breakfast.  All savories and a made to order rice roll.  
Start with glutinous or sticky rice.  I rinsed and soaked the rice for an hour and then cooked it in my automatic rice cooker.  If you eat a lot of rice, treat yourself to this wonderful machine.  Fill the water to the number line matching the cups of rice you put in.  It's that simple.
When making the rolls, use a small towel as a base, then a sheet of plastic wrap.  Spread the rice out thinly into a sheet.  As the rice must be hot to do this, you will need the towel to keep from burning your hands, and help you shape the rice into a roll.  I made mine today with dried shredded pork, salted duck egg yolk, pickled radish and some ginger scallion sauce.  A perfect little lunch.  
  For the girls, I'm hoping they will try one for an after school snack.  I took last night's leftover flank steak, thinly sliced to almost a shred, and added in a little bit of teriyaki sauce.  I wonder how that will go over.  It's best if they are not refrigerated, but if you need to, like I did, just reheat in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.
Think of the rice like any other type of shell and go crazy with the endless combinations of fillings.

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