I first thought of these during the spring alliums contest. However, the spring alliums I had in mind, namely garlic scapes, never reached my fair shores. At least my local Whole Foods never called me. No matter, I was excited to try them sans spring alliums and happy that they were as good as I had imagined. As an added bonus, everyone in my family -- gf hubby, tomato bandit and picky kid included -- loved them. If you have extra syrup, it makes a mean martini. Simply add 2 ounces of your favorite gin (I used Aviation), plus 1 T of the syrup, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. I call it the Do-Over Martini, for those days that you would care not to remember. Like yesterday for me. These make forgetting easy.
Test Kitchen Notes
Gingeroot's Spring rolls with mint, pork and green apple do their main ingredient proud. The minty pork filling is rolled with mint in a crunchy rice paper envelope, and bolstered with a sweet and tangy mint syrup. The herb proves its dexterity in each variation. To take it one step further, we ate them Vietnamese style, wrapped in lettuce with more mint and whole basil leaves. It seems that writing this review has triggered a craving; back to the store for more rice paper! —Erik Hellman
- Makes 12 -13 rolls
- For the syrup
½ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup granulated white sugar
1 Thai bird chili or Hawaiian chili or other similarly spicy chile
¼ cup mint leaves, packed
- For the spring rolls
10 ounces ground pork
garlic, peeled, minced
fresh ginger, peeled, minced
green apple, peeled and diced (about 1/3 cup plus 2 T)
mint leaves, packed and cut into chiffonade
large mint leaves
pieces of square rice paper (mine were about 6 ½ “ x 6 ½“)
Canola oil for frying
- For the syrup
- Combine vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan.
- Coarsely chop the chili and discard stem. Add to pan (seeds and all). Try not to handle the seeds – use gloves if desired.
- Tear and rub mint leaves together with your fingers as you add them to the pan.
- Bring mixture to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and allow mixture to reduce by half (about 10-12 minutes). Remove pan from heat and set aside until ready to serve. It will thicken as it cools. Before serving, strain out solids. Drizzle over spring rolls.
- For the spring rolls
- Heat a 10” skillet over medium heat. Add pork and brown, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon. Depending on the fat content of your pork, you may have to pour off some of the fat. You want your meat to be moist, but not swimming in fat. When all the meat has browned, add minced garlic and ginger, stirring and cooking until fragrant.
- Add fish sauce and cook for a minute more, moving mixture around to combine.
- Remove meat mixture to a glass bowl and let it cool for a minute.
- Fold in green apple and sliced mint.
- Set up your rolling station. You’ll need a plate, a square baking pan (8 in) and a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Situate your bowl of filling near the baking sheet.
- Place the 12 pieces of rice paper on the plate. Fill the baking pan halfway with the warmest water from your tap (warmer than tepid, but cool enough to put your hand in without burning).
- Working one at a time, dip a piece of rice paper into your pan of water. Carefully flip the paper repeatedly with your hands. Within 10-15 seconds, it should go from brittle to pliable – like a strong, wet paper towel. Make sure the edges are softened, so that your filled roll will stick to itself rather than pull apart. Lay the softened paper on your lined baking pan. Spread 1 ½ Tablespoons of your filling about one inch in from the side facing you (see photo). Top filling with a mint leaf and then carefully fold up edge over filling. Fold each side over towards the center and confidently but delicately, tightly roll the rest of the roll until you reach the end. Place roll seam side down on parchment. Repeat with the remaining rice paper pieces and filling, changing water (rice papers are easier to soften in warmer water) at least once, until finished. Make sure rolls are not touching, so they don’t stick together. Cover rolls with a damp paper towel. *NOTE: If your rice paper has a hole or rip in it, make sure you orient your square so the hole is covered by a layer of the rice paper. A hole in the top of the spring roll will open up when fried.
- Heat ½-inch canola oil in a Dutch oven or similar pan until it reaches 340° F. I have found that frying these at a slightly lower temperature for a little longer reduces the chance of exploding spring rolls (let’s just say that at 375° F, I had nearly 50% of my rolls explode while frying). Add up to three rolls, one at a time, with long chopsticks (or other suitable utensil) and fry until firm and golden, about two minutes, flipping halfway through. As you remove each spring roll, tap on the edge of pan to remove excess oil. Drain on paper towels on the baking sheet. Repeat until done.
- Serve hot spring rolls drizzled with Vinegar-Mint syrup immediately. Enjoy!