By MITSUKO NAGASAWA/ Senior Staff Writer
October 28, 2020 at 07:10 JST
Editor’s note: The theme of Gohan Lab is to help people make simple, tasty “gohan” (meals).
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“Spring rolls” cap the series on fried food. There are countless ways to enjoy them by changing what goes inside the crispy wrapper, and it is exceptional to bite into freshly fried ones at home.
The fillings chosen for the recipe are sea bream, a white fish, and celery leaves. It is standard practice to stir-fry vegetables and meat before wrapping, but an easier way is to use ingredients that are easily cooked or can be eaten as is. Seafood is a perfect choice.
Celery leaves that are somewhat stiff when fresh will soften when cooked at a high temperature and the strong aroma is fused in by wrapping. Other recommendations are chicken breast tenders, mushrooms or “sansai” (edible wild plants). Try different seasonal combinations.
As was the case with deep-fried chicken, the spring rolls are fried in two stages. The ingredients are cooked to the core at low temperature and finished off in high temperature to brown evenly. This way, the oil drains better as well. The recipe lists curry-flavored salt but salt seasoned with “sansho” (Japanese pepper) or lemon goes well, too.
The arranged version features spring rolls with fish meat sausage and bananas that were favorites of Katsuhiko Yoshida, who supervised the cooking aspect, in his childhood. Pick them up with your fingers and enjoy.
TOPIC: IMPROVE YOUR FRYING SKILLS WITH USEFUL TOOLS
Here are some useful tools when making fries.
A cooking thermometer that measures up to 200 degrees allows you to check the oil temperature in numbers. Glass or digital types are available from around 1,000 yen ($9.50). Those with a pointed tip can be stuck in a block of meat being cooked to check the core temperature.
Then comes the wire rack. The rack that comes as an attachment to the frying pot tends to be small. If the fried pieces are laid in a single layer on a flat cooking rack, the coating will be prevented from getting moist with steam.
Ideally, a fryer should be thick and deep to achieve a stable oil temperature. But if you do not have a specialized pot, choose other serviceable pots made of iron or stainless steel. It is important to use the right amount of oil at the right temperature.
BASIC COOKING METHOD
(Supervised by Katsuhiko Yoshida in the cooking aspect and Fumiyo Hayakawa in the cookery science aspect)
* Ingredients (Serves four)
2 slices (200 grams) of sea bream (tai), 40 grams celery leaves, 8 spring roll wrappers, to season sea bream beforehand (1/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp sake, bit of pepper, 1 tsp katakuriko starch), as adhesive (1 tsp each of flour and water), oil 3-cm deep (2 cups in pot 18 cm in diameter), some curry powder and salt
About 250 kcal and 1.3 grams salt per portion
1. Mix flour and water to make an adhesive.
2. Cut celery leaves with stem to 6 cm in length. Remove bones from sea bream if any, cut in half and cut in half again lengthwise into stick shape. Place in flat container, add base seasoning of salt, sake and pepper and lightly rub in. Dust with katakuriko starch (PHOTO A).
3. Place wrapper in rhombus shape. Place celery and a piece of sea bream horizontally a little toward you from the center. Wrap up the end close to you and then fold in left and right ends. Roll up so no hollow is left and apply adhesive to the edge of the top end and stick (PHOTO B).
4. Heat oil to 160 degrees. If pot 18 cm in diameter is used, place three spring rolls at the same time. Fry for 3 minutes while turning occasionally (PHOTO C) and remove. Fry the rest likewise. Turn up heat so oil becomes 180 degrees and fry three at a time for about 30 seconds so they brown evenly. Remove. To check the temperatures of oil at the beginning and finishing stages, let a drop of watered-down adhesive fall as done in the case of batter. (Refer to Cookery Science section.)
5. Cut spring roll in half and serve with mixture of equal amount of curry powder and salt.
Katsuhiko Yoshida is the owner chef of Jeeten, a restaurant in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Uehara offering Chinese home cooking.
Fumiyo Hayakawa is an expert on quality assessment of food at the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization.
SPRING ROLLS WITH FISH MEAT SAUSAGE AND BANANA
They are simple spring rolls with a unique round shape. Cut 2 fish meat sausages (“gyoniku soseji”) and 2 bananas in half. Wrap each in spring-roll wrapper and fry in the same way. The banana spring roll will become a dessert if chocolate sauce is poured on top.
The temperature of oil can be guessed by the fact that when a drop of batter falls into the oil, its movement changes according to the momentum of the water evaporating. In tempura, root vegetables are cooked slowly to the core from a low temperature (160 degrees). But in the case of fresh seafood, it is possible to get a subtle finish where the coating is cooked at high temperature (180 degrees) but the ingredient remains half cooked.
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