I have a good friend who was complaining about the lack of Asian Dim Sum that was gluten free and she asked me if I knew how to make any. As I am gluten sensitive, I have been working with recipes for a while that that satisfy that craving for those amazing snacks that I used to devour on Sundays from the many carts at my favorite Dim Sum restaurants. Luckily, one of the bases of Asian cooking is the use of rice in many forms, including rice paper wrappers. Most people know that rice paper wrappers can be softened to make those wonderful Vietnamese Summer Rolls, but they are also used to make deep fried Spring Rolls. These brittle wrappers just need to be run individually under tap water until they soften slightly and then rolled and cooked. I used square wrappers as I find them easier to roll and tuck, but the round one are fine too. The only problem is that they are very tricky to work with as the wrapper is very sticky and they often explode in the oil when you try to deep-fry them as they can easily stick together or stick to the spatula and the wrapping tears. So, I decided to bake them instead. They are less oily and much less difficult to make this way and my friend was very happy with the results!
The trick to making spring rolls is to cook the filling first. The filling is composed of stir fried Napa Cabbage, slivers of green onion, slivers of carrot, slivers of Shitake Mushrooms or Cloud Ear Fungus, a little meat – I used pork - and bean thread noodles. The filling mixture is seasoned with Tamari if making them Chinese style or Fish Sauce if making them Vietnamese Style. I served them with a dipping sauce made of Soy and Rice Wine Vinegar and Chili Garlic Sauce, although they are also very good with Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dip) or Thai Sweet Chili Sauce or Banana Catsup from the Philippines. For those of you who are used to the texture of egg rolls made with a wheat flour wrapping, these won’t be quite as crispy, in fact the little bit of crisp on top has a chewiness underneath. But, they are delicious in their own way and such a joy for those of us who are trying to avoid gluten and still want to enjoy Asian snacks. I am going to add this dish to my Chinese New Year celebration for all my Gluten Free friends.
Oven Baked Spring Rolls
4 cups chopped Napa Cabbage leaves
5 green onions, cut into slivers about 1 ½ ” long
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into slivers about 1 ½ ” long
6 Shitake Mushrooms, rehydrated and sliced into thin strips
2 2 oz packages Mung Bean Noodles, soaked in hot tap water for 20 - 30 minutes
3 Tablespoons Tamari or Fish Sauce
½ teaspoon Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 package of Rice Wrappers – you will use about 15
1 large baking pan (I used a jelly roll size) lightly oiled with about 2 – 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (I used High Heat Safflower)
Drain the Mung Bean Noodles and cut them into about 1 ½ - 2 “ lengths. Put aside. Heat a wok and put in the 3 Tablespoons of Vegetable. Add in the green onions, carrots and Napa Cabbage. Stir-fry until cabbage starts to wilt. Add in the Mushrooms and Mung Bean Noodles and Tamari and stir until well mixed. Take off heat and put into a large bowl and put into the refrigerator to cool.
When ready to cook, Heat oven to 500 degrees. Take one wrapper at a time and run under cold tap water. Place it on a plate or cutting board like a diamond shape with the points facing up and down and out to the right and left. Put in about 3 heaping Tablespoons of the filling slightly below center and roll the bottom point up and over the filling. Pull in each side, tucking it tightly and roll all the way up. The rolls should be about 3 inches long. Put the rolls directly onto the pre-oiled pan. Turn to get both sides covered with a small amount of oil. It is important to make sure that you space them far enough apart so that they do not touch! Bake for 10 minutes, turn carefully with a spatula and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Put on a plate and dab with a paper towel to soak up any extra oil and serve with dipping sauces.
Five Element Analysis
Rice is from the Metal Element and the Green Onions add in a bit more. The cabbage contributes the Earth Element, whereas the Shitake Mushrooms, Mung Bean Noodles and the Tamari or Fish Sauce contributes the Water Element. Only a little bit of Black Pepper represents the Fire Element so make sure that one of the dipping sauces has some Chili in it to make this a very balanced snack!