Monday, November 7, 2011

Deep Fried Fish Spring Roll

Feeling adventurous before the Cowboy game on Sunday, wanna make some delicious nom-noms for watching the game.  I've had the idea of Fried Spring Rolls in my head for a week or so.  Seems like a good idea.  The filling for a spring roll is usually rice noodles, Bean sprouts, and seafood, but I am thinking more like an Egg Roll with a Rice paper wrapper.  I think we'll use Cabbage, Carrot, and Onion for the vegetable part of the filling.
I used the grater to shred the Carrot, then the Cabbage and Onion were finely sliced.  Also later decided to put several cloves of Garlic in the filling as well.
Then for the seafood I used Whiting, which is a pretty unremarkable fish, but its cheap, and I like it.  I usually buy fish frozen, so I thawed out about a pound of Whiting.
I've never attempted a Egg Roll, or a fried Spring Roll before, so just winging it here.  I have some Asian cookbooks and did browse them before doing this, and sort of felt like I had a good idea of what to do.  I wanted to precook everything that was going into the roll first, but not fully cook, and let the frying process finish off the cooking.  So, I start by sweating the Onions, with some Red Chile flakes, and salt.
Then I'll add the garlic.  The strongest flavored foods hit the pan first, and then we'll add the bland foods, and they can pickup the Onion, Garlic, and Red Chile flavor.
This is a Stir Fry process so it goes quickly.  I have a Bamboo Wok Tools that I use to toss the pan's contents around.  A lot of my cooking happens in a Stir Fry Pan, even non-Asian foods.  I just love these pans, they are almost indestructible.
Here we toss in the Carrot and Cabbage, and mix them together well.  A Stir Fry Pan should be really hot, and you need to keep the contents moving.  If you don't then the food on the bottom can over cook, and the food on the top can be undercooked.
Then within a few minutes everything is to the target doneness.  We'll take the vegetable filling and put it into a bowl to cool while we prepare the rest of the ingredients for the Spring Rolls.
Chinese Mustard is something I like on Egg Rolls, but don't have any.  So, I decided to fake it.  Chinese Mustard is strong, and sweet, So my improvisational condiment will use Yellow Mustard, Honey, and Wasabi.
This probably turned out to be the best part of what I made today.  As you'll see soon, my grandiose dreams of homemade Deep Fried Fish Spring Rolls didn't turn out for the best.
Next I poached the fish, so it would be partially cooked going into the Spring Rolls.  I used some water in the Stir Fry pan, and let the fish have a nice warm bath before hitting the fryer.
While the fish were poaching I prepared the deep fryer.  I use vegetable oil in the fryer, and preheat it up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Next to the fryer, on the left, is a sheet pan with a rack to drain the Spring Rolls after they come out of the fryer.
Now, on with preparing the Spring Rolls.  We have all the filling ingredients precooked, and all we have to do is assemble them.  I have a pan of hot water to soak each Rice paper wrapper for a few seconds first.  Then I'll transfer them to the assembly station where I add some of the vegetable filling and a slice of fish.  Then roll them up like an Egg Roll, Spring Roll, or a Burrito.
The vegetable filling, and a pound of Whiting was enough to make 11 Spring Rolls.  The rice paper will get sticky as it starts to dehydrate, so you gotta keep 'em separated.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the frying process.  What happened next put my endeavor into a crisis mode, and I was busy trying to save my Spring Rolls, so I wasn't even thinking about the camera.  The fryer was up to temperature, the Spring Rolls were ready, I got all of the unnecessary stuff out of the way, ready to go...

When the first two Spring Rolls hit the oil things went awry, Doh!  The Rice paper is very elastic, and when the filling started to give off steam they puffed up like balloons.  I'm thinking, OK, this is normal.  The the Rice paper burst, and the contents of my Spring Rolls exploded into the oil, oh crap!  So that was the first one, and I am thinking maybe I didn't roll it tight enough.  After a couple more blowouts I was feeling pretty defeated, and the results were pretty ugly...
So, after the initial failure, I went searching for answers, and consulted my Chinese cookbook.  Their method of deep frying was just about a half inch of oil in the Stir Fry pan, and not a deep fryer.  So I grabbed the Stir Fry pan, and got it fired up over medium heat, and transferred a cup and a half of hot oil from the deep fryer to the Stir Fry Pan.  With this method the Spring Rolls were not totally immersed in the hot oil, so they didn't have the adverse reaction of puffing up and exploding.  They did swell up a bit, but not like in the deep fryer.  Well, this is a relief.  The remainder of the Spring Rolls were salvageable, but my technique is still lacking...
So, by this time I had missed the first half of the Cowboy game, and the kitchen looks like a hurricane had just came through it.  Everything is coated with a fine layer of fryer oil, and I'm exhausted.  So, I take my half-assed, oil saturated Spring Rolls, and went to watch the game...
They weren't totally bad.  The fish was overcooked, the vegetable filling was saturated with fryer oil, on some of them, and no didn't eat them all.  The Honey, Mustard, Wasabi sauce was good.  But I did get a crash course in making fried roll thingys, and wound up sleeping through the rest of the game.  Well, at least the Cowboys won...


  1. Try egg noodle shells from the freezer section. By filo pastry. The rice papers are for salad rolls and meant to be eaten raw. I dont think they're meant to be deep fried

  2. The mustard is a great idea! Im trying it! You have an adorable dog too, love the pic :) check out this link. No more exploding spring rolls..