Thursday, March 11, 2010

Foods & Flavors of the Philippines

Last night Alex and I headed down to the Whole Foods on Houston and Bowery for a cooking class taught by King Phojanakong.  New Yorkers might be familiar with him from his restaurants Kuma Inn and Umi Nom, or you might have seen him on Chopped on the Food Network sometime in the past year.  Of the two restaurants I have only been to Kuma Inn, but one of these days I am going to make the trek out to Brooklyn to try Umi Nom.  It has been getting rave reviews.  Anyway, the class was great.  I had such a fun time watching King cook and hearing about Philippino cuisine.  We made chicken adobo, lumpia shangia (crispy spring rolls), pancit canton (stir-fried egg noodles), and sauteed Asian greens.  My favorite of the four dishes was the lumpia shanghai.  When served with the sweet chili dipping sauce they were seriously addicting.  The next time I have people over (and a bunch of time on my hands to roll dozens of spring rolls) I'm definitely going to make them.

Unfortunately the only picture I took of the spring rolls looks terrible, so I'm not going to post it.  But trust me that these are delicious and go ahead and give them a shot!

Recipe after the jump!

Lumpia Shanghai (Crispy Spring Rolls)
Adapted from recipe by King Phojanakong

1 package frozen spring roll wrappers
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, diced (canned is perfectly fine)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsbp sesame oil
2 1/2 tbsp milk
2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 eggs, separated
1 tbsp kosher salt 
3/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups vegetable oil 

Defrost spring roll wrappers and prepare according to package instructions.  In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients, except one of the eggs.  Using your hands, mix ingredients thoroughly.  Mixture should not be moist, but not too wet.  Heat a small saute pan over medium heat.  Add 1 tsp vegetable oil.  Form a small patty about the size of a silver dollar and no more than 1/4 inch high.  Cook the test patty in the saute pan until done, roughly 3 minutes.  Taste for seasonings.  If necessary, add more s&p to taste.

Cover spring roll wrappers with a damp paper towel so they don't dry out.  Beat remaining egg lightly in a small bowl.  Taking out one spring roll wrapper at a time, place it on a clean surface.  Place roughly 3-4 tbsp of the filling mixture about 3/4 of the way down the wrapper (towards the end nearest you), making sure that the filling extends all the way across the wrapper horizontally to both ends.  Roll spring roll tightly and use the egg wash to seal up the ends.  The spring roll should look like a cigar.  Repeat until you run out of filling or wrappers.

Heat 3 cups of vegetable oil in a large Le Creuset, or similar dutch oven to 350-375 degrees F.  Fry the spring rolls in the oil until golden brown and cooked through, roughly 3-4 minutes depending on the temperature of the oil.  Make sure not to add too many spring rolls to the oil at once or it will lower the temperature of the oil and they won't fry correctly.  Remove spring rolls from oil and allow to drain on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a paper towel.  Allow to cool while cooking the rest of the spring rolls.  Once all of the spring rolls have been cooked, cut them into 4 pieces.

Serve with sweet chili dipping sauce.

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