Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thai Spring Rolls or How I Got Over my Fear of Frying

Just so we're clear, I'm not afraid of fried food, although I probably should be, even just a little. Except for sautéing, however, I've always been afraid to try frying in my toy kitchen.  It just seemed so involved.  Get the oil to just the right temperature. Keep it there.  Too hot, and ouch! Painful, potentially scarring spatters. Too cold, and your food is greasy and gross. Too hot for too long, and forget it.  Throw out that smoking oil and order a pizza.

And speaking of throwing out, even that can be a real pain.  You can't pour your oil down the drain, or you'll clog it. You also don't want to pour the oil straight into your garbage bag, lest it tear and you (or your condo's hapless maintenance guy) end up looking like a sea gull who decided to take a swim in the Gulf of Mexico post-BP.

But see, here's the thing.  Food fried at home not only tastes better; it's also better for you.  For one thing, you control your oil: what kind of oil and more importantly, how many times it's used.  I personally don't like to re-use frying oil, but if you choose to, you get to decide how many times (three should be your absolute max).

And once you get completely comfortable with frying in a small kitchen (which, admittedly, I'm still working on), you'll find yourself opting to do that rather than ordering fried food outside.  And maybe that's the point.  That something so deliciously sinful and indulgent should take a little more time and effort. Because let's face it, you really shouldn't be having this stuff every day. So, when you do decide to indulge, make it worth your while.  And every now and then, just fry away, my friends. Fry and be free.

Here's a great Thai egg roll recipe to ease you into the joys of frying.

Thai Egg Rolls
adapted from a recipe found in
The Best of Food Magazine (Expanded Edition)
published in 2003 by ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc.

2 -3 tablespoons vegetable oil for sautéing
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped 
1 cup ground pork
2 cups shrimp, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup carrots, shredded
1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (or to taste)
3 tablespoons green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons dried mushroom, chopped
1/2 cup glass noodles (used for chap chae) or vermicelli, cut, soaked in water for about 20 minutes or until soft, and drained
20-24 small lumpia wrappers
Cooking oil for deep frying (preferably canola, grapeseed or corn)

1.     In a medium size pan, heat oil over medium-high flame until shimmering, and sauté garlic and onion.

2.     Stir in ground pork, shrimp and carrots. Season with fish sauce, salt and pepper.

3.     Stir in green onion and mushroom. Add some water if mixture is a little dry.

4.     Add noodles and cook until pork is completely brown and liquid is absorbed. Adjust seasoning to taste. Let cool.

5.     Divide filling into 1-tablespoon portions and wrap in lumpia wrappers. Resist the urge to overfill the wrappers.  Trust me, you will regret it.

6.     In a deep-sided pan, pour at least 1 inch of oil and heat until oil is swirling at the bottom or bubbling (NOT smoking).  If oil starts to smoke, quickly remove from the fire until it cools a little bit.

7.  Deep-fry egg rolls until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.

8.    Slice egg rolls diagonally before serving.

9.     Serve with  sweet chili sauce.


  1. Sounds yummy. And to talk about indulgence: stuff fried in Bacon fat is even better.

  2. Oh, Lordy (those were my arteries saying a prayer!), yes indeedy, Anonymous. Truer words were never said. :)

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