Imperial Rolls

I've made a fair share of Chinese fried egg rolls over the years, but had yet to make these yummy rolls.  Unlike egg rolls, these are wrapped in rice paper and the filling, when cooked, is compact and solid like a meat roll, rather than loose.  I love these with my vermicelli bowl or wrapped in green leaf lettuce and dipped in Nuoc Cham sauce.  I searched out this recipe  from published on SeattleMet from Monsoon, which, along with Ba Bar, happen to be two local Seattle restaurants we love.  I couldn't help myself but to alter the recipe slightly.  

1 cup thin rice vermicelli
1 lb ground pork
½ lb diced white shrimp
1 cup shredded carrots
⅔ cup shredded taro root
½ cup diced shiitake mushrooms
⅓ cup finely diced sweet onion
3 tsp sugar
1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
3 tbsp fish sauce

For wrapping and frying:
1 ½ cups hot water
1 ½ tbsp sugar
¾ cup beer
25-30 rice paper rounds 9" size
Peanut or canola oil for frying

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce:
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar 
½ cup fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
5 cloves finely chopped garlic
3 diced Thai chilies (the more seeds you leave in, the spicier it is)

To make the filing: 
Soak the vermicelli in cold water until soft, about 15 minutes.  Cut into small pieces, about 1" long.  Combine with remainder of the filling ingredients.  You can use a large spoon or spatula to mix, but it is easiest to use your hands.  I use one hand and kneed the ingredients together like dough.

Combine the water, sugar and beer in a large bowl or pan and stir to dissolve the sugar.

Lay a clean, lint free, towel on your work surface.  
Dip one rice paper into the water mixture and move around to make sure it's completely covered submerged.  Let soak for 5 seconds.  
Transfer rice paper to the towel and let sit for another minute to soften.
Spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of the filling onto the lower third of the rice paper.  Form into a 1" x 4" log.

Fold about 1" of each side of the rice paper onto itself.  This will give the ends a thicker skin. 

Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over filling.  Then fold the sides over top and roll from the bottom up to finish.  

Place the rolls, seam side down, on a parchment paper lined pan.  Make sure the rolls don't touch each other, or they will stick.

To cook: 
In a deep frying pan (I use a large cast iron pot), add enough oil that it will cover the rolls when frying.  Heat to 265 degrees.  
Place the rolls in, one at a time, without overcrowding.  Fry for 5-7 minutes, until firm but not browned.  The 30 rolls I made were fried in 4 batches.  

Transfer them to a baking sheet or dish lined with paper towels.  
Refrigerate until cool.  

When ready to eat, reheat oil to 350 degrees and fry the rolls for another 5 minutes or so until golden and crisp.  Drain on paper towels.  

To serve:
Whisk together the nuoc cham ingredients.  
I served mine with green leaf lettuce and sauce on the side.

I fried a few extras for the girls' lunches tomorrow and then froze the rest.  Hopefully, the frozen ones will fry up well for another day.


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