Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ginger Pork Spring Rolls

Vietnamese cuisine is full of refreshing flavor and perfect for hot summer days. It's been awhile since I've had some really good Vietnamese fare (oh, how I miss living in the city!) but the cuisine really isn't too difficult to make at home. One of my favorite Vietnamese appetizers is the fresh spring rolls, also known as Goi Cuon. Traditionally, they're made with a combination of shrimp, pork and vermicelli noodles. For an easier twist on the traditional recipe, I made these Ginger Pork Spring Rolls. Although not quite authentic, it's a great substitute...

A common complaint I hear from friends who want to cook Asian cuisine at home is that some key ingredients are sometimes difficult to find. For this recipe, the 'specialty ingredients' needed include hoisin sauce, Asian chili garlic sauce and rice paper wrappers. Hoisin sauce is becoming more of a common ingredient in most national grocery store chains. The Asian chili garlic sauce is an optional ingredient. If you do prefer to use it, you can use as much or as little as you'd like, depending on how much heat you want in the dish. Lastly, the rice papper wrappers is what makes this dish a tasty little package. If you can't find this item in your local grocery store, you can substitute it with wonton wrappers and fry the spring roll. Or, omit the wrapper altogether and enjoy it as a salad as is; as a lettuce wrap/cup filling; toss with cooked white or brown rice as a side dish; or use the filling inside tacos or burritos.

Regardless of how you decide to enjoy the filling, take note of how flavorful the pork is with the bits of ginger, cilantro and scallions mixed in. I especially like the use of a coleslaw mix - it saves time and really adds a great, fresh texture!

Ginger Pork Spring Rolls
recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen

1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Asian chili-garlic sauce (or to taste; optional)
1/4 cup water
1 (16oz) bag coleslaw mix
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 scallions/green onions, white parts minced; green parts sliced thin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
12 (9 inch) rice paper wrappers

Combine the hoisin, soy, and chili garlic sauces and water in a small bowl. In another bowl, combine the coleslaw, cilantro and scallion greens; set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat until just smoking. Add pork and 1/3 cup of the hoisin sauce mixture. (The remaining hoisin sauce will be used as a condiment for dipping.) Cook the pork until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger and scallion whites and cook until fragrant. Place this pork mixture into the bowl with the coleslaw, cilantro and scallion greens. Toss to combine.

Spread a clean, damp kitchen towel on the counter. Soak a rice paper wrapper in a shallow bowl of warm water, about 10 seconds, and spread out on towel. Arrange 1/2 cup of filling on each wrapper, leaving a 2 inch border on the bottom. Fold in sides and roll up tightly like a burrito. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Serve with the remaining hoisin sauce mixture for dipping.