Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lap Xuong Spring Roll

Lap Wut?  Hows you say that?  Try this...  Lop Zu-ong?  Better?

Chinese sausage, Lap Xuong, or sometimes Lap Choung, is a Pork sausage that is dried and packaged to be shelf stable at room temperature.  You can think of it as Pork Jerky, sort of.  Maybe like a Pepperoni stick, or one of those Firecracker Sausage sticks?  Sound like junk food?  Nah, Chinese sausage is Serious Bismuth...
You know me, always messing around with culinary borders, breaking the status quo of cuisine.  Lap Cheong is a Cantonese sausage, which much as many Asian foods, crosses borders carelessly.  In Vietnam it is known as Lap Xuong.  This is my first taste of Lap Xuong, so this is experimental, sort of, and is also my first attempt at Spring Rolls.  Then Lap Xuong package say they need to be cooked thoroughly.  This is not because it is fresh meat, it is fully cooked, but because the Lap Xuong has a high fat content.  I'll take two sausages and pan fry them, and simmer the remainder for 15 minutes.

I want to try the Lap Xuong both fried and simmered in water.  The other ingredients in the Spring Roll are some stir fried vegetables and some Rice Vermicelli.  For the stir fried vegetables I am going to lean over to the Chinese side of the border, and use some vegetables that normally would be found in Egg Rolls, like Cabbage, Carrots, Onion, and some Hatch Green Chile.  I finely slice the vegetables, and set them aside for the stir fry.
In the mean time I need to put the Rice Vermicelli in some hot water to soften it.  We want the Rice Vermicelli to be ready to eat when it goes into the Spring Roll because the Spring Rolls are not cooked again before they are served.  Same for the Lap Xuong, it needs to be fully cooked before going into the Spring Roll.
The pan fried Lap Xuong is kinda of crispy like Bacon, and has a sweet and savory flavor similar to Maple Breakfast Sausage.  It is very familiar and foreign at the same time, hard to explain.  The simmered Lap Xuong has similar flavor, but is softer, and I think it will go better in the Spring Roll than the pan fried Lap Xuong.  I use the leftover oil in the fry pan to stir fry the vegetables.  They are thinly sliced and will cook very quickly.  I'll add some Soy Sauce to the stir fried vegetables for seasoning.
The Spring Roll uses Rice Paper for a wrapper.  It is a very thin sheet of processed Rice, and only needs to be dipped in hot water for a few seconds for it to become pliable enough to roll.  There are many varieties and shapes of Rice Paper.  I chose round because I am used to rolling tortillas.

Next I need to put together a rolling station.  It will be very similar to rolling Sushi, but there is no rolling mat needed.  The thin Rice Paper can be difficult to get a hold of, so you may want to have a knife handy to get under the sheet if it is stuck to the cutting board.  Then we prepare the fillings.  We need to drain the Rice Vermicelli noodles, put the stir fried vegetables in a bowl, slice the Lap Xuong, and get everything ready to roll.
As I pull one sheet of Rice Paper out of the water, I'll throw another one in.  This is very much an assembly line process now.  Spread the Rice Paper out on the cutting board.  Add some Rice Vermicelli noodles to the back side.  Then add some stir fried vegetables, and finally add some of the sliced Lap Xuong.  Then we roll, much like a Burrito, or an Egg Roll, fold the back of the Rice Paper over the filling, fold in the sides, and then roll the contents down the remaining Rice Paper.  The Rice Paper sticks to itself well, so you don't need to worry about applying any "glue".  Once you have rolled a few you will have a rhythm, and the rest go fast.
This is my first experience with Lap Xuong, so I am serving a couple extra links with my Spring Rolls.  The condiments that I chose are Soy Sauce, some Hot Horseradish Mustard from Germany, and some of my Hatch Chile Salsa.  So, wadaya think?  Ready for some Chinese Burritos?  Uh, I mean, Mexican Egg Rolls?  No wait, what are these?  Cantonese Spring Rolls?  LOL!  Whatever the hell they are, they just Happy Monkey Chow...

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