Delicious Thai High Tea Snacks
Pradichaya at Chef-Me-Not!!! introduces delicious Thai high tea snacks with her fun story-telling, easy-to-follow recipes.
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Delicious Thai High Tea Snacks
We call our high tea snacks "kongwang." Kong is "stuff," or "thing," and wang is "empty.".
We call our high tea snacks "kongwang." Kong is "stuff," or "thing," and wang is "empty." I have a suspicion that the term "kongwang" used to be "tongwang." Tong means "stomach," so tongwang together means "empty stomach." Is it because our stomach is often empty in the afternoon, so we have to fill it with stuff? Or, because "kongwang" -the stuff is empty, as in empty food -junk food- so we can't call it a meal; therefore, it only belongs to our afternoon snack category? The fact is, our high tea snacks are real food with good nutritional value. Maybe the Thais just looked for an excuse for yet another family and friends get-together. And what would be a better reason than coming up with more delicious ways to entertain people? - I will stop spamming my hard drive (my head!) with confusion right here, and move on with what I started out to say.
Similar to high tea snacks elsewhere, we represent both food (-kongkao- or on the salty side), and dessert (-kongwan- or on the sweet side) on our menu. Please do not misunderstand that, because you come across the term 'salty,' it means that we Thais have hypertension. It's all about balance: if you have been following my articles, you will realize that the true Thai way is about the balance of things. Today, I will show you how easy it is to make Thai eggrolls, and with a little bit of creativity you can easily make another dish from the same preparation, and even a way for carb conscious people to enjoy the same snack without feeling cheated of the flavor.
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Eggroll - Assorted meat spread on fried bread - Lettuce roll - Assorted meat cake/ball
--Same ingredients are used for the filling and the spread.--
GPC - my fancy abbreviation for garlic, (black)peppercorn, and cilantro root mixture. Please refer to my earlier recipes for how to make it.
Finely chopped or blended celery and carrot - you can use an electric blender to blend them together.
Two to three kinds of meat, the choices being; ground pork/chopped fresh shrimp/ground chicken or ground pork/shredded crabmeat, ground pork/shrimp, or what I used today, ground pork/ground chicken. The best flavor would be pork/crabmeat or pork/shrimp. When ground chicken is used, always put in a little more pork or the filling will not be as moist as it should be.
Mung bean vermicelli - I find it very frustrating that sometimes I just grab a bag of vermicelli and only find out later that it was made from flour, not mung bean. Don't be like me- go for the one that says, "Mung Bean Vermicelli," and always check the label. One bag usually contains 8-12 small bags of vermicelli, and here we'll use 2-3. But do not exceed the amount of meat or your filling will be off-balance and the texture will suffer. First, soak the vermicelli in water until it becomes soft. Rinse out the water and use kitchen sciccors to cut it up almost to shreds.
You will also need one - two eggs to add some moisture to the mixture and to act as a binding agent. For those who can't stand the sight of eggs - if you bake cakes without adding eggs, and actually like the texture- please feel free to skip this part - the eggrolls will turn out a little (or very) dry and the taste will be altered.
Nampla and nammunnhoy
That's it for the filling. We'll start by putting all ingredients in a large bowl, not in any particular order. Today I use one pound of ground pork and about 3/4 pound of ground chicken. (If I added crabmeat I would use 1/2 pound of pork, 1/4 pound of chicken and whatever the size is for one can of crabmeat, the same for adding shrimp.) About two tablespoons of nammunnhoy -oyster sauce- and four tablespoons of nampla. Mix very well with your clean hand. For the first time, you may want to check the taste by taking about one heaping teaspoon of your mixture and cooking it in the microwave for 45 seconds to one minute, and tasting it. If it seems a little weak, add only a dash or two of nampla and leave it - because you will have a dipping sauce and cucumber salad to complete the flavor. But please make sure that there's enough GPC so that you can actually smell it from the cooked filling. Let's move on to the wraps.
Dressing-Up the assorted meats Filling
The following items are for dressing-up your filling
Eggroll/springroll sheets - they are essentially the same thing. Pick any size you'd like. I prefer the medium size. Please also keep in mind that the smaller they are, the more you will have to wrap, and the more grease it will hold - yikes.
Bread - white, wheat, multi-grain - whichever you prefer. Unfortunately, white bread- which is the least healthy for us- is the best with the meat spread.
Large leaves of iceburg lettuce - gently peel without breaking to maintain the size, lay leaves on a dish or in a bowl, wet a piece of paper towel and put it on top, cook on high in the microwave for one minute and leave to cool down. This will be your wrap instead of the eggroll sheet, a way for carb conscious people to enjoy the snack. You can deep fry or steam or do both - but they won't taste the same!
Are you ready to roll?
The best way to roll your eggroll is the envelope style. Please do not under- or over-stuff your filling, because they will burst out of the wrap and burn in the frying process (figure1 and 2). If you use a medium size sheet, try one heaping tablespoon of filling and put it in the middle, but off to one corner - diagonally. Fold one corner over (figure3). Roll it one time and fold the sides, so that both corners meet toward the middle of the roll (figure4). Roll once again, and dab a little water along the edge of the corner that's left, fold, and now you have made one eggroll. Please go ahead and finish the whole pack of sheets, it won't take long :-)
Spread and give it about one centimeter in thickness. Too thick, it will burn (you'll see!) and too thin, it will be a waste since you won't taste the wonderful flavor. If you like, you can garnish with cilantro leaves (You used the roots for GPC, now some of the leaves can be of use here.)
Take a piece of lettuce- if you break the leaves in the process of peeling them off, lay two pieces side by side, with one overlapping the other. Proceed to roll and wrap in a manner similar to rolling the eggroll sheets.
If you would rather steam the wraps and the balls, it's time to heat up the water in the steamer.
This is meant for the extra filling you have left after you run out of eggroll sheets and lettuce leaves. Form a ball/cake in the size you feel is appropriate. If you steam them with lettuce wrap they will become dumplings, and if you fry them then they are fried cakes or fried balls.
Or, you can freeze the leftovers for rainy days, or a day that you pick up a pack of wonton wraps. This assorted meat filling makes the most delicious fried wonton or dumpling soup.
Extra virgin olive oil for frying - it will be great if you have a deep fryer, but any deep skillet will do.
Pour in the oil, about two inches high. If you fry in large quantities -which you will if you follow my recipe today- as soon as the oil shows signs of turning dark, please pour it out and add new oil. Start with medium high heat. You will alternate between medium high and medium all through your frying.
When the oil is hot, start frying. Wait until eggrolls turn yellow before you flip to the other side and turn the heat down. It takes me about five minutes on the first side, but, as the skillet gets hotter, it takes less time. This is why you must stand by and watch the temperature. There will be oil splashing here and there: if you can't stand it, add a small amount of butter while frying, as it will cut down the splashing. I use butter made from olive oil, but any butter will do.
It would be best if you fry everything separately, with fresh oil each time. My mistake today was not giving my undivided attention, because Kaitlyn kept calling me for homework help. I should have changed oil, even switched skillets, but I didn't. As it turned out, I could have make it more golden and not as darkened!
When eggrolls turn golden brown, take them out and let them sit on a platter layered with 3-4 sheets of paper towels to absorb the oil.
Tip for preparing large quantity: When I make eggrolls for more than ten people, I fry them only to the point that they turn slight yellow. Then I lay them on a baking sheet and put in the oven around 200-250 degrees Fahrenheit and let them finish cooking in there. If I have a lot of time in my hand, I'd reduce the heat to warm.
I usually melt pickled Chinese plum with sugar, salt, and vinegar for dipping sauce. But, a great shortcut will be the store bought "Maesri" springroll sauce. Pour it in a bowl and add a dash of salt or, even better, Maggi sauce. There, you have the dipping sauce for our today's snacks.
Cucumber salad - "ahjad"
The idea is for the coolness of cucumber and the balanced sour-sweet-salty taste of the dressing to counteract the grease from the frying process of our eggrolls.
Vegetables; Slice the first three - cucumber, red sweet pepper (or any hot pepper - as hot as you like it), red onion, and cilantro leaves for garnish.
Dressing; 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 5 tablespoons of sugar, 14 tablespoons of vinegar (any kind you like - I use apple cider vinegar since it's agreeable to my cranky system) If you are a math person, this ratio will make sense - salt:sugar:vinegar 1:10:28
Mix the salad and dressing together and keep it in the refrigerator. The veggies will release more liquid and mix in very nicely with the dressing.
Serve with hot or iced tea - jasmine tea, any English tea, with the exception of fruit teas.
It's nice to spend a weekend afternoon with our close friends, relatives, or our neighbors. We all have been busy texting, updating twitter and facebook and have forgotten that we can just "connect" by reaching over to the people around us. Let's take care of each other, and, have a great Chef-Me-NOT!!! Day.
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