Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Nem Chien Banlae
Vegetable Spring Rolls 

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Nem Chien Banlae
Vegetable Spring Rolls

Although it is a vegetarian dish, vegetable fried spring rolls are savoured by all as a snack, appetiser or starter.  It is a good dish for parties as it can be made beforehand and freezen for up to 2 months. The smaller rolls are perfect for cocktail parties served with ‘Mixed vegetable pickle’ (see recipe).

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Mi Sour
Mung Bean Noodles

Good to know …
You can half-cook the rolls (deep-fry for 1 minute each side), allow to cool and then freeze for up to 2 months. When needed, bake them from frozen in a preheated oven at 230ºC/450ºF/Gas 8 and cook for 10 minutes, flip over and continue cooking for another 6-7 minutes until crispy.

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Rice papers

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Pastry Sheets
Feuilles de Brick

 







 

 

Serves 4-6 for snack or 8-10 for starter 

Ingredients

Rice paper 1 pack of 22 cm (9 inch) diameter or
pastry sheet (feuilles de brick)
Vegetable oil 3 cups - for frying 

Filling
Vegetable oil 2 Tbsp
Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Onion 1, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
Dried wood ear mushrooms1 (black fungus) 28g (1 oz), soaked in warm water for 15 minutes, drained, cut off hard parts, then thinly sliced (use dried Chinese black mushrooms, if preferred)
Carrots 2, peeled, grated and squeezed off some of the moisture – yields about 1½ cups
Cabbage 1 quarter – finely shredded
Spring onions 4 – sliced into rings (use both white and green parts)
Soy sauce 2 Tbsp
Sugar 1 Tbsp
Freshly ground pepper 1 tsp
Salt 1 tsp

Mung bean noodles1100g (3½ oz), soaked in warm water for 15 minutes, drained and cut into 2.5 cm (1 inch) lengths
Egg 2, beaten 

Dipping Sauce 1 cup  (see recipe) or Sweet Chilli Sauce (see recipe)
Unsalted roast peanuts ½ cup – roughly crushed 

Vegetables for accompaniment
Cucumber slices 1 - sliced crosswise
Round lettuce 1 - leaves separated and washed
Aromatic herbs  - chi angkarm (mint), chi tpal trei (fish wort), chi neang vorng (Thai basil) and chi saing krahum (Khmer mint

Method 

To prepare the filling
Heat the oil in a wok or a skillet, add the garlic and onion and stir-fry until fragrant – about 1 minute. Then mix in the wood ear mushrooms, carrots, cabbage and spring onions. Sprinkle over soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper and continue to stir-fry for a few more minutes. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and leave to cool completely. Then add in mung bean noodles and eggs. Mix well using your hands to bind together. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. 

To make the rolls
Rehydrate a sheet of rice paper by dipping half first into a large bowl of warm water2 and then gently rotate it around until the edge and the centre are wet, about 10 seconds. Then place it on a flat surface such as chopping board3 (or the back of a clean baking sheet). Allow to soften for 20 seconds then it will be ready for use. (skip this step if using pastry sheets6

On the softened rice paper (see illustration), place 2 tablespoons of the filling at about 5 cm (2 inch) from the edge nearest to you. Shape the filling into a small sausage of 6 cm (2½ inch) long with a diameter of about 2.5 cm (1 inch). Lift the edge nearest to you to cover the filling, fold in both left and right sides and roll tightly to form a compact cylinder. Repeat this process with the remaining filling. Place each one on a plate ensuring that they don’t touch each others. 

To fry the rolls
In a wok or skillet, heat about 4 cm (1½ inch) of oil (just enough to cover the rolls4) over medium5 (not high) heat until it reaches 180ºC/350ºF. To test if it is ready, stand a chopstick in the middle of the wok/skillet and see small bubbles rising up. Fry the rolls in batches, 3-4 at a time. Cook for 4-5 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Remove the rolls with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil on kitchen paper. Repeat the process with the remaining rolls. 

To serve
Arrange 2-3 rolls on a serving plate and dress with slices of cucumber, lettuce leaves and aromatic herbs. Place a little bowl of dipping sauce on the same plate at one side. Eat with your hands by laying out a lettuce leaf, adding cucumber slices, aromatic herbs and placing a roll on top; and then folding the lettuce leaf around the content and dipping in the sauce. 

Tips

1  Mung bean noodles are also known as ‘glass noodles’ or ‘cellophane noodles’ and are available at Asian grocery stores where you can buy ‘wood ear mushrooms’ and ‘dried Chinese black mushrooms’ too.

2  Adding a few tablespoon of lime/lemon juice to the water will toughen the rice paper and help to become crispier when fried. Make sure you use warm water and not boiling water.

3  To save time, soften another rice paper each time before you start rolling the ready soft one.

4  Using less oil is more effective than the normal deep-frying method. This is because the rolls are not floating around -whereby you can easily handle the rolls and cook them more evenly.

5  The temperature is important. If the oil is not hot enough, the rolls will absorb the oil and become greasy; if it is too hot, they will not be cooked through. 

6  If using pastry sheets instead of rice papers, you will need a pastry brush and a flour mixture (mix 2 teaspoons of plain flour with 4 teaspoons of water) to seal the edges.