Friday, March 5, 2010

Wild Mushroom Spring Rolls

I am lucky to have someof the best friends and know some of the nicest most generous people in Helsinki. With their support, I havebeen able to make Helsinki my second home.

One of them, currently my landlord, MK, and his girlfriend LY, are now my neighbors. They are also Chinese. I wanted to make them a special dinner to show my gratitude, but I was given a special challenge. LY is allergic to seafood, and accustomed to mainly meat dishes. In any case, I was excited about this chance to try making some authentic dishes that the true experts could judge for themselves. I was rewarded with the compliment that it tastes 'better than in some Chinese restaurants in Helsinki'. I know that's not really saying much, but it made me happy!

First, I wanted to start with these mushrooms typical to China. There is the typical shitake mushroom, which is meaty and juicy, and then the black fungus, which when rehydrated, unfurls into a beautiful flower like form, but has a rather delicate yet distinct taste. I bought these from Vii Voan on Hameentie 3, for 3,50e and 1,90e respectively.

Then I decided to make mushroom spring rolls, using frozen spring roll pastry, only 1,90e for 280 grams. I had way more wrappers than needed for this recipe, so I can use the rest to make different spring rolls another time! The rest are waiting for me in my freezer.

Wild Mushroom Spring Rolls (makes about 12-15 rolls)
Preparation time: 1 hour 15 minutes*
  • about 1lb of mushrooms, rehydrated (this is about 4-5 handfulls of dried mushrooms)
  • bunch of scallions, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 50grams bean thread noodles (1 individual packet, if you can find them packaged as shown below), blanced (easiest if you leave the string tied around it while it soaks in boiling water)
  • frozen spring roll wrappers
  • 1/2 tbs ground ginger, or fresh grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tbs roasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice blend (I ground equal portions of star anise and cloves with pestle and mortar then added a pinch of salt, pepper, and cinnamon)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • peanut oil for frying
  • Spicy Mustard Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
Bean thread noodles
  1. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for approximately an hour. If the shitake mushrooms still seem hard in the center, cut them in half after soaking partially and soak longer. They should double or triple in size. Drain, but save the water (this makes invaluable mushroom stock for soup recipes).
  2. Dice mushrooms.
  3. In a large pan, heat a few tablespoons of peanut oil. Add the garlic, ginger and scallions and fry until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the diced mushrooms to the pan and fry for another minute.
  5. Add the cabbage, carrot, spices**, soy sauce, and sesame oil and continue to fry until tender.
  6. Using a large space, prepare your roll wrapping area by placing the beaten egg in one bowl, the stack of wrappers thawed and handy for use, the blanched bean thread noodles, and mushroom mixture in two separate bowls, and one parchment lined baking sheet.
  7. Placing the wrapper at a diagonal, place about 2 tbs mushroom filling, topped with a thin layer of bean thread noodles, and roll the wrapper until the filling is covered.
  8. Fold in outer corners of wrapper, brush the end triangle with egg, then continue rolling all the way. Place on baking sheet.
  9. Heat oil to a high temperature, and fry each spring roll until golden and rest on paper towels to drain. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Spicy Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup spicy yellow or dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 3 tbs rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Blend all ingredients together.

* I know this seems like a long time, and rolling the filling into the wrappers can be tedious. But do what I did and enjoy the rolling process while watching a movie :) I watched 'Hurt Locker' which was very intense and seemingly realistic but enjoyable.

** Also it would be good to add about 1 tbs oyster sauce, though I did not add it due to LY's allergy.

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