There’s nowhere else like Dong Thap where there are vast lotus flower fields. There are many species of lotus as well as legends for which people have a passion. People make full use of all parts of flower to produce foods: to cook rice, make tea, medicine, and many other rustic dishes and specialties such as: dragon blood rice with lotus seeds, grilled fish wrapped in lotus leaves, hot pots with lotus stems, lotus stem and lotus root salads with prawns and pork, lotus seed Che (Chè), eel braised with lotus roots…. Head Chef Tran Minh Dung of Restaurant Hotel Tra River (Cao Lanh – Dong Thap Province) brought to the banquet tables of the Golden Spoon Awards a rustic and inventive dish, and it is not only simple but also sophisticated: Spring Rolls with Lotus Seeds.
Whatever name we call it, it exists everywhere in Vietnam. Its delicious taste lies in the crustiness of the stir-fried golden skins of Pia cake without greasiness. It “melts” on the tip of the tongue as soon as it is put into your mouth. No sooner have we enjoyed the taste of the sweet skins of Pia cake than the fragrance of boiled lotus seeds comes to fill up our senses as well as our souls. Served with the sauce, it is saltish, sweetish, sourish, somewhat buttery, nutty and spicy and is a wonderful appetizer to awaken all the senses of diners.
SPRING ROLLS WITH LOTUS SEEDSPrint This
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE SPRING ROLLS:
- Skin of Pia cake: 10 sheets
- Pork shoulder blade, finely chopped: 200g
- Fresh lotus seeds: 80g
- Roasted peanuts: 20g
- Soaked black fungus: 15g
- Carrots: 15g
- Chicken eggs: 2
- Cooking oil: 750ml
- SPICES FOR THE STUFFING
- Ground black pepper: 1g
- Sugar: 1g
- Seasoning powder: 2g
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE
- Fish sauce with 400N: 50ml
- Sugar: 60g
- Kumquat extract: 25ml
- Garlic, minced: 8g
- Pepper, finely chopped: 8g
- ACCOMPANYING VEGETABLES:
- Salad: 50g
- Spicy herbs: 50g
- Cucumber: 1
Preparation: Bring the lotus seeds to a boil until softened but not crumbled and drain them in a colander. Cut the carrot into strings. Soak the dried black fungus in water until they fully expand. Place all the ingredients into a large bowl.
Make the stuffing: Mix together the pork, lotus seeds, carrot strings, soaked dried black fungus, roasted peanuts, and an egg with the spices for the stuffing; let them sit in the bowl for 10 minutes to mix well.
Make the spring rolls: Divide the stuffing into 10 portions (30grs/portion), use the skin of Cake Pía to wrap each portion and seal it with the remaining egg (whisked well).
Stir fry the spring rolls: Heat the cooking oil to 170 degrees Celsius, use a bamboo chopstick to check the oil: when it slightly bubbles, put the spring rolls into the frying pan, use a pair of chopsticks to stir them gently and constantly so that they can be equally well-done. When the spring rolls float into the surface and become golden brown, take them out and place them on a piece of absorbent paper.
Make the fish sauce (thick fish sauce): Tip sugar and fish sauce into a medium saucepan, cook it on a low heat (600C) for the sugar to dissolve, turn off the heat and let it sit for a while to cool down, sprinkle the minced garlic, minced red pepper and pour some kumquat extract into it.
On the table, place a plate of hot spring rolls, a plate of pickled vegetables, a small bowl of thickly made fish sauce. Serve with spring roll wrappers to roll or “banh hoi” (bánh hỏi) with stir-fried spring onions. Use small kitchen utensils to decorate and help the diners feel comfortable in using them.
The spring rolls must be golden brown with the sweetness of the meat, the nuttiness and the aroma of the lotus seeds combined with the dipping sauce to make a balanced combination of sourness and hotness, saltiness and sweetness, with the aroma of the kumquat juice.
Season the dried black fungus with some ground pepper to make the dish more flavorful.
Deep fry the spring rolls so that they can be evenly golden brown.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
This dish helps enhance energy, foster strength, fight infection, stimulate digestion, reduce the body heat, reduce the poisoning, relieve cons pa on, enhance eyesight, beautify facial skin. It also helps lower blood pressure, reduce blood cholesterol and ureic acid in blood. This dish is very helpful to people with weakened immune systems, blood poisoning, bacterial infection; it is also good for the elderly and children having recovered from illnesses, those who lose appetite, those with high blood pressure, hardened arteries, high blood cholesterol, obesity, gout, joint arthritis, cons pa on, thirst, restlessness, impaired eyesight.
TRAN MINH DUNG Song Tra Hotel (Dong Thap Province) Runner-up in the Southern regional semifinal round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013