Tuesday, June 03, 2008
While hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #135, I discovered lots of new blogs. They, in turn, discovered me too. Several of the bloggers graciously invited me to their blog "parties." Except, the parties are vegetarian events, and while I cook with vegetables, and while some of my recipes might be vegetarian-adaptable, "bringing" something with even a little bit of meat just wouldn't be proper. So when Mansi of Fun and Food, who's hosting this month's Monthly Mingle, invited me to share vegetarian appetizers or hors d'oeuvres, I had to wrack my brain for quite a while.
Luckily, I remembered that I had recently made cha gio bap/ram bap (Vietnamese corn egg rolls). I was more familiar with the pork and shrimp version of cha gio (Vietnamese egg rolls). And of course, there's my regional version of just shrimp and scallions in cha ram (Vietnamese shrimp egg rolls). A few months ago, I lamented on Cathy of Gastronomy's blog about how hardly anyone knows what cha ram were, which prompted Miss.Adventure in Vietnam to visit my blog to commiserate that no one knew about ram bap. Corn egg rolls? That's new to me.
Miss.Adventure says the recipe comes from her mom, who is from Quang Ngai, which is on the south-central coast of Vietnam. Her recipe included corn, bean thread vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms, and salt and pepper.
Since my ong ngoai (Vietnamese maternal grandfather) is also from Quang Ngai, I called my mom to ask if she knew about ram bap. She said she did and that people in our hometown ate it too. Huh! Who knew? Mom suggested I slice off the corn in layers, like how I make che bap (Vietnamese dessert pudding with corn and tapioca pearls in coconut milk). This is important since you don't want whole corn kernels. The inside of the sliced kernels become sticky, which helps to bind the filling as there's no meat. I decided to also add in grated carrots and onions, and an egg for binding, like I do in normal cha gio. The result was a very light, yet filling egg roll. The cooked corn provided a slight sweetness. I didn't miss the meat at all.
I wonder if the recipe came about from Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist vegetarian cuisine? In which case, if you wanted to truly observe the strict tenets of Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist vegetarianism, omit my egg, carrot, and onion additions. The reason is that alliums such as onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives, which are characterized as the "Five Acrid And Strong Smelling Vegetables" should be avoided as they excite the senses. Root vegetables, such as carrots, are also excluded since the plant will die if you eat the roots. Since my ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) is gone, I really don't observe ram (Vietnamese Buddhist vegetarian days), but perhaps I should? Of course, I'd need to dig up a lunar calendar and figure out how to read it...
Anyway, Miss.Adventure in Vietnam says her mom calls these corn egg rolls ram bap, but that I can also call them cha gio bap, which probably has a more familiar ring for people.
Also, please check my cha gio (Vietnamese egg rolls) recipe for rolling and frying tips. Since there's no meat, the filling can keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Just make however many egg rolls you plan to eat right then as they'll get soggy. Store the filling in a tight container in the fridge, or freeze the filling for later.
Cha Gio Bap / Ram Bap (Vietnamese Corn Egg Rolls)
Adapted from Miss.Adventure in Vietnam
For about two dozen corn egg rolls, you'll need:
1 package of Chinese egg roll wrappers, or Vietnamese rice paper wrappers
2 or 3 fresh ears of corn, kernels sliced off in layers
1 carrot, grated
1 small onion, grated
1 small handful of dried Tree/Wood Ear Fungus/Mushroom, soaked in hot water
1 cup bean thread vermicelli noodles, soaked in hot water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce)
Soak wood ear fungus and bean thread vermicelli noodles first.
While they're soaking, slice off corn kernels in layers like so.
Peel and grate one carrot and one onion. Drain and squeeze out excess moisture, and add in bean thread vermicelli noodles and wood ear fungus. Add one egg for binding.
Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. And mix thoroughly.
Set up your rolling area - separate wrappers, have your filling ready, and a bowl of water for sealing the wrappers.
Don't be too greedy, we're not making burritos here. Scoop out about 1 or 2 tblsp of filling and place it near a corner.
Fold the corner down, notice how I tuck it under a bit?
Then fold in the sides. Make sure it's straight so the sides of your egg roll will be even.
Roll and make sure it's tight.
Keep going, making sure it's still tight.
When you get near the end, you can dip your finger in the water and moisten the corner. Or take the whole egg roll and dip the corner into the water.
Finish rolling and you've got a tightly-wrapped egg roll. This is important because it keeps excess oil from dripping into the egg roll when you're frying.
Add a tsp of white vinegar into the oil for extra crispiness and turn your wok or frying pan to medium-high heat. The oil is hot enough when a wooden chopstick in the oil forms bubbles. Fry egg rolls until golden.
These may be eaten alone or with a simple Nuoc Mam Cham (Vietnamese Fish Dipping Sauce).
Who else made ram bap?
Miss.Adventure in Vietnam is now Miss.Adventure @Home and posted her recipe.
My other egg roll recipes:
Cha Gio (Vietnamese Egg Rolls)
Gluten-Free Cha Gio (Vietnamese Spring/Egg Rolls)
Cha Ram (Vietnamese Shrimp Egg Rolls)
Egg Rolls Stuffed with Bananas and Mangoes with Nutella Dipping Sauce
Egg Rolls with Salmon and Avocado
Lumpiang Prito (Filipino Fried Egg Rolls)
I'm submitting this recipe for Monthly Mingle, an event started by Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey? This month's host is Mansi of Fun and Food, and the theme is vegetarian appetizers or hors d'oeuvres.
1 year ago today, Chao Tom (Vietnamese Grilled Shrimp Paste Wrapped Around Sugarcane).