When talking about food, one debate never fails to arise: Is cooking an art or a science?’ The truth is that it is very much both. I’ve had friends assert that either you ‘get it’ or you don’t,’ insisting that understanding flavor is innate.
There are just some people who understand food intuitively. They can conceive of unique flavor combinations simply because they have the ability to imagine taste, much in the same way that a painter can envision the juxtaposition of certain colors. This is the art.
The science of it is a whole other animal, and one that can be easily learned. I’ve always struggled with the science part of cooking, due mostly to my reluctance to follow recipes. A great way to have fun with different ingredients, and to earn props at a dinner party, is mastering the art of the spring roll.
Though spring rolls are a staple in many Asian cuisines they are absent from the Korean repertoire, hence my obsession with making them at home. I am equally enthralled with the fresh (rice paper) and deep fried (pastry) spring rolls. They each have their merits, and they each require equal amounts of trial and error before being perfected. I find that getting a nice, compact wrap is easier with pastry spring roll wrappers, but there’s the added process of frying them â which can be messy. Not to mention much more fattening.
Vietnamese rice paper wrappers are available at almost every large mart, but pastry wrappers are hard to come by. The small imported foods store in the basement of Shinsaegae carries brand name, Spring House TYJ Spring Roll Pastries in the refrigerated section. As for the rest of the ingredients, I usually go for whatever veggies are about to go bad in my fridge.
Spring Rolls â Two Ways
Makes 15 spring rolls
15 round rice paper wrappers OR 30 pastry wrappers (double wrapping avoids them falling apart while frying)
2 bunches enoki mushrooms, roots cut off
1 large carrot, grated lengthwise
1 small zucchini, julienne (shoestring) cut
¼ head of purple cabbage, finely chopped
½ cup olive or grape seed oil
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Fresh cilantro and/or basil if you can find it
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce (gochu-jang, or red pepper paste, is an appropriate substitute)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup water
3 cups soybean or vegetable oil
Large cutting board or other surface for rolling, wok/sauté pan, grater
For fresh spring rolls: A large bowl of hot water
For fried spring rolls: A small pot, tongs and A LOT of paper towels
Like I’ve said, once you get the science of it down, it’s time to get creative. I’m thinking that the next time I do fried spring rolls, I might try eggplant and mozzarella with a marinara dipping sauce (my Italian grandma’s marinara recipe to come in a future issue).
Place all the ingredients in a wok and sauté for 10-12 minutes. Drain ALL the excess oil/juices out of the wok. Transfer to a bowl beside a large, clean, flat surface.
Fresh Spring Rolls:
Immerse a rice paper wrapper into a bowl of hot water for two seconds. Lay the paper flat and place a heaping tablespoon of the sautéed mixture in the center of the wrapper, arranging it in a horizontal line that leaves an inch on either side and two inches on the top and bottom. Fold all the sides while poking it to secure the wrap. This part takes some practice. Patience, grasshopper!
Fried Spring Rolls:
Make an egg wash (mix an egg and a cup of water). Peel two wrappers from the stack and lay as a diamond. Use a brush (or your fingers) to lightly coat the entire wrapper with the egg wash. Place a heaping spoonful of your sautéed mixture in the center, and follow the same instructions as above for rolling. Heat the canola or vegetable oil in a small pot until it is sizzling. Place 3-4 spring rolls into the oil. Fry for one minute on each side, using tongs to turn them. Place spring rolls on several layers of paper towel to remove excess grease.
For a no-brainer, yet killer, dipping sauce, mix:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Wasabi
1 Tbsp. grated ginger (powdered if you’re NOT using a food processor)
You can check out Jen’s recipe for the perfect tuna burger here.
The Latest Haps
Strong winds and rain are wreaking havoc around the city as typhoon conditions have caused property damage around Busan and the cancelation of flights and ferry services.
Three foreign cruise ships will arrive today at Busan Port for the first time this year.
Disney/Marvel’s blockbuster “Captain America: Civil War” has broken the record for the largest opening day in Korean cinema history.
Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica is set to perform at the BEXCO Auditorium on Saturday, May 14th.
The number of foreign residents in South Korea reached 1.9 million this year, with a steady increase in the number of Chinese nationals.
The monthly Busan book swap is set for this Sunday, May 1st at Beached Bar in Gwangalli.
Two great chefs will pit their skills against each other for Cinco de Mayo this Thursday at Gwangan HQ.
Subway has announced its 10th Busan location as it will open its newest store in Haeundae this month.
More and more people are discovering the joys of traveling to Cambodia for holidays. Simon Slater found a wonderful place known as Kampot — that is still somewhat of a secret.
The first long-haul flight from Busan to Los Angeles has been scrapped after National PWA has cancelled its international route.
This famous town is well worthwhile as the crowning place to go after visiting Changnyeong-gun’s more strenuous sites.
An international yacht race will be held at Suyeong Bay from this Thursday to Sunday.
The top tennis tournament in South Korea will begin tomorrow at Geumjeong Sports Park.
The East Sea of Korea Haeparang Trail: The Busan Walking Festival will take place on May 7, 2016 at Oryukdo Sunrise Park.