I made this dish last night after dragging two tired, screeching children around the Upper West Side looking for rice paper so I could make a cold shrimp roll with cucumber, mango and cilantro. I had a hankering and I thought the kids would love it. As you know, we are BIG on the shrimp around here.
It's weird when you go into an Asian grocery and you have to explain what you use to make a shrimp roll. I mean, shouldn't they be explaining it to me? But it turns out, half the people who work in Asian groceries on the Upper West Side are Hispanic and only speak Spanish. And I'll be damned but I couldn't remember how to say rice paper in Spanish.
This all amounts to me screaming "papel de arroz!" over the din of my wailing, unhappy children and about 10 different guys shrugging their bewildered shoulders and saying, "Yo no se!"
So, I changed plans. I shelved the cucumber and the mango and pulled some egg roll wrappers out of the freezer. I went from healthy and fresh, to fried and fatty and awesome in like two seconds flat.
David loved them and ate every one in his near vicinity, including the ones I saved out for his lunch the next day. The girls turned their nose up at them as if I had offered them some kind of liver terrine. Liver terrine with poop on top.
Weirdly, I think they felt the egg roll presentation tainted the shrimp they love so dearly and so, they turned their adorable little noses up at even those. Then, to really rub salt in the wound, they jumped up and down on the couch as if to make it quite clear that they were boycotting dinner and wanted me to know that I had failed to give their little bodies' sustenance. Then, they just pretended I didn't exist.
I got the message.
But you should not listen to my crazy children and make these lovely, crispy rolls with the dipping sauce, which is salty and pungent and gives the rolls just a little kick in the pants. And Lord help, me we all need a good kick in the pants once in awhile.
FYI, I ate the remaining dipping sauce over cellophane noodles at like 11pm while watching the last season of "Madmen" (I'm only on episode 4, so don't tell me) and it was pretty satisfying.
I do believe these rolls would be great cold right out of the fridge the next morning with my ice cold tea, but they didn't stay around long enough for me to find out.
12 egg roll wrappers
¼ cup vegetable oil (for frying)
1 pound of medium cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined & cut into small pieces. (Not minced. I like a little chunk)
4 green onions, finely chopped (some of the green is fine. It'll add flavor and a nice color)
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 teaspoon ginger, grated (Go easy on the ginger. Too much will overpower the delicate shrimp)
1 good-sized wad of fresh cilantro, minced (Be generous. Cilantro is a good thing)
Juice of half a lime (I only had a lemon and that worked just fine)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper
A 1/4 cup of Panko bread crumbs (this sounds weird, but I didn't have cornstarch and this bound up the shrimp nicely and provided a subtle texture inside the roll)
Cook shrimp in boiling salted water. About three minutes or until shrimp just turn pink. Don't overcook. Or if you bought cooked shrimp, feel good that you saved yourself some time.
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix together with your hands.
Dip the egg roll wrapper in the warm water under the tap, just until it feels pliable and easy to work with. Lay wrapper on your work surface and place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of shrimp filling in the middle of the wrapper. Roll in edges and tuck over sides to make your egg roll. I think this is intuitive. You know what an egg roll looks like, you can probably figure out the best way to wrap it. If not, I'm sure YouTube has 3,000 videos of people properly wrapping egg rolls.
Cover egg rolls with a damp towel until you are ready to fry. Heat oil in a wok (or pan) until oil shimmers.
Working in batches, fry egg rolls until they are golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes on each side. They cook quickly so keep an eye out. I think it's a no-brainer to say that I stop short at letting the kids help with the frying. Boiling oil in a wok and children makes me nervous.
Remove rolls with tongs. Let drain on paper towels before serving
Cilantro Dipping Sauce
5 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of a half a lemon (or lime)
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
A splash of sesame oil
A small pinch of salt
A hit of cilantro, finely chopped
Combine in a small bowl and serve on a platter next to the rolls, cut on the diagonal and piled on top of one another, with a flourish of cilantro leaves.