This recipe has been developing in my head for ages and as I write it is sat in my belly, I just couldn't wait to get it on the blog. Ever since I imagined the king prawn sat alongside the sweet roasted garlic in an Asian snack of some sort it has been growing. I've been trying to figure out what else to put with, how to wrap it and so on - up until this morning even I wasn't sure what that final layer would be. Would I stick it in a translucent dough like har gau? Wrap it in a won ton skin and have it in soup? Maybe in wheat dough cooked potsticker style? In the end the rice paper spring roll wrapper was victorious as I craved the crunch. The versatile wrappers also allowed me to try out two cooking methods, the aforementioned fried and a softer (healthier) steamed affair. I'm glad I did because they were delightful.
Many Chinese seafood dumpling recipes include pork fat - even if they don't have any pork - but I've always ignored it, the lean pigs over here normally too short of it for eating as part of the cut let alone having any to spare for other purposes. My dumplings have always lacked something too, which before now I'd always put down to my lack of MSG usage when making them. Having sacrificed the edge of a pork chop for these I now know that it is a must include ingredient. Mashed to a paste with some of the prawns it turned the filling from a rough hash of prawns to the firm, juicy, prawn studded filling I'm used to in Chinatown. Remember we're talking hard fat from a joint here though, I can't imagine a big lump of rendered lard would have the same effect.
The roasted garlic, even with its Western origins, played its part perfectly, marrying with the king prawn exactly as I imagined it would. I'm pretty proud of the result.
King Prawn and Roasted Garlic Spring Roll Recipe
200gr raw king prawns
50gr pork fat, cut from a chop or joint (not rendered lard)
3 wood ear mushrooms, soaked
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
1/3 ts salt
1/2 ts light soy sauce
1 ts rice wine
Few drops of sesame oil
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of sugar
8 rice paper sheets (22cm)
First roast the garlic. Wrap the unpeeled cloves in foil and cook for 30 minutes at 200C.
Take the pork fat and 75 gr of the prawns and pulse in a mini-processor until reasonably smooth.
To wrap run a circle of rice paper under the tap, shake off the excess water and hold till it starts to go soft. Lay it on a chopping board, put 1/8 of the mixture (a dessert spoonful maybe) in a line (about 7cm long and 3cm wide) three-quarters of the way down the sheet. Fold the sides across then roll it up tightly, starting from the short end. Place onto a plate, lightly oiled so they won't stick.
To cook either deep fry for 4-5 minutes till golden or steam for 6-8 minutes.
Serve with whatever dip you fancy. I had two, some sriracha and a homemade sauce of equal parts rice vinegar and fish sauce.