My brother and I travelled to Auckland together for our fathers wedding. Heavens we had a great time. Despite what many people say about Auckland, I really like the place. But oddly enough, my most memorable experience was a spring roll. We may have been a little worse for wear at the time, but this spring roll we bought from little Chinese restaurant was truly sensational; the best spring roll I’ve ever eaten in my life. To this day, I try and emulate it. I should tell you, during the six months I spent in China, I never once even saw a spring roll. I understand they are a snack from the south east; parts I never went to. This Auckland spring roll stood out for me because of its incredible freshness. It was loaded with fresh wombok and a generous hit of fresh ginger. The freshness of the vegetables in the filling is key, and very different to the usual mushy filling one finds in spring rolls. I poach chicken thighs in a soy and ginger broth, and shred the meat to add to this filling. But I use raw wombok and raw carrots to keep that lovely crispness of fresh vegetables. These are great plate to take to a pot luck dinner, or another ‘dude food’ dinner when all you want to eat is something you can pick up with your hands in front of the tele.
|2||chicken marylands, skin removed*|
|4||cm||piece of ginger,|
|10||spring roll wrappers|
|1||cm||piece of ginger, additional|
* You can use any type of chicken leg meat for this. Feel free to substitute four thigh fillets, four thigh cutlets or four drumsticks. Marylands are just what I had in the fridge.
To cook the chicken, roughly chop the ginger into chunks. Combine the chicken, ginger, soy sauce and peppercorns in a saucepan with enough water to cover the chicken. Bring the pan to the boil and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat. Cover and leave the mixture to cool before placing it in the refrigerator. It’s important to leave the chicken in the poaching liquid for the whole time, for maximum flavour infusion. Feel free to break the chicken up when its cool enough to handle, then put it back in the liquid, for even greater infusion. When you are ready to make the spring rolls, remove the meat from the bones and shred. Reserve a little of the poaching liquid for serving.
Finely slice the wombok and set aside in a bowl. Peel the carrot and slice into thin ribbons using the long blade on your vegetable grater, then cut the ribbons into matchstick sized strips. Discard the roots of the spring onion and any wilted outer leaves. Finely slice the spring onion at a very obtuse angle so you have long thin strips of spring onion. Finely chop the ginger and pound into a paste in a mortar and pestle.
To assemble the spring rolls, take a spring roll wrapper and arrange it in front of you with a point facing your stomach. Smear a little fo the crushed ginger over the quarter of the wrapper that is closest to you, then arrange a little carrot and spring onion; then some wombok, shredded chicken, more wombok, then more carrot and spring onion. Take the corner closest to you, and fold it over the filling, wrapping it tightly, then fold in the two opposing corners to make a tight ‘envelope.’ Roll the wrapper tightly, and seal by wetting the last corner with a little water.
Heat enough peanut oil in a saucepan to deep fry the spring rolls. The oil should be between 175oC and 200oC. Fry the spring rolls in batches, removing from the oil when they turn golden. Drain on absorbent paper towel. Serve with two dipping sauces: sweet chilli sauce, and the poaching liquid.