Spring Rolls and Roller Coasters

This is where the roller coaster comes in. The emotional roller-coaster that is. Our daughter Claire (@ClaireB-Oz) breezes in and out of our lives like a whirlwind leaving a tangle of images and memories in her wake.
Yesterday Claire and myself met up with my friend and Italian teacher Solange who recently gave birth to identical twins. I get to see these gorgeous little boys once a week and there is nothing more delicious than nuzzling the baby-soft skin at the nape of their necks. This morning at Dublin Airport I tucked in a stray label in the back of Claire’s hoody just before she passed through security and suddenly the image of her as a tiny baby who I could wrap up and protect came flooding back. Once a Mammy always a Mammy I guess.
Anyway we had a fantastic few days including a wonderful send-off meal in China Sichuan last night where Kevin did us proud with a “no menu” spread that included whole Irish lobster and Sichuan rabbit. Claire has gone back saying she ate more Chinese food here than when in China and armed with Gok Cooks Chinese and Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice and lots of good intentions to cook and contribute to the blog.
Of all the memories of Claire’s visit, one of the nicest is of Claire and her friend Diane filling spring rolls on the butchers block in my kitchen, glass of wine at hand, chattering ninety to the dozen as they caught up on all the news and gossip.
From the day I started this blog Pat Whelan (@Pat_Whelan) of James Whelan Butchers has been asking me when I am going to make spring rolls. There’s not much point making them unless you have an excuse to prepare a batch of 20 or more, so having a gang in for the wagyu hotpot the other night was a great opportunity to experiment and serve them as an appetiser. Then I realised I had taken on far too much for a mid-week dinner party after a long day’s work so I was very glad when Claire and Diane rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in as very competent sous chefs.
I never had a spring roll in China and I find the stodgy versions you get from Chinese takeaways here very off-putting so I searched around all my cookbooks to find a recipe that might have a fresher, lighter taste. The recipe below is in The Food of China – A Journey for Food Lovers and the homemade plum sauce is from Gok Cooks Chinese.

Spring rolls served on a slate

I made them with free-range pork from James Whelans Butchers and vegetables and fruit supplied via Superquinn by Donnelly Fruit & Veg, with the exception of the Chinese cabbage and garlic chives which I picked up at the Asia Market where you can also get the spring roll wrappers.
So specially for you Pat, and with thanks for the wagyu beef, here goes Continue reading Spring Rolls and Roller Coasters