I have yet to get out ice fishing this year, something I am hoping to remedy in the next week. But that doesn't mean I haven't had any fresh fish recently. As my wife put it I am like the wild game godfather. People just drop off fish and game to me from time to time. The latest drop off was from my neighbor Kevin, who had been out fishing on Crystal Lake right near our houses. He had done pretty well and dropped off 6 decent sized crappies that he had caught. I always enjoy getting a delivery of fresh fish or game because lately I have been to busy to get out and get any myself.
I had recently been to a Vietnamese joint for lunch and had a wonderful bowl of Pho and some fried shrimp spring rolls. The spring rolls were light and crisp and wonderful, while I was sitting there eating them I was thinking that I could probably make something similar with panfish if I ever got some. So when Kevin dropped off the crappies I had no doubt as to how I was going to prepare them.
When I finished my lunch that day I asked to talk to the owner who was nice enough to tell me all about his process for making the spring rolls. He only asked that when I made my own I would still come back and eat at his restaurant. I assured him that I would be back for anther bowl of Pho and that next time I would have to try the Durian milkshake. I may have been fibbing about trying the milkshake but I will most definitely be going back.
My process for making these spring rolls was similar is very similar to what he told me but I had to make up the seasoning portion because that he didn't tell me. Mine are a mixture of fish and water chestnuts along with some shredded carrots. I also added some garlic and onion powder as well as some ginger and made a paste that I spooned into the rice paper wrappers. I had never fried rice paper before and was afraid they would cook to quickly and possibly burn before the fish would cook but the wrappers held up really well and had a very wonderful crispy chewy texture almost identical to the ones I had the the Saigon Palace, if you are ever down in the Burnsville, MN area I would highly recommend it.
Crispy Fried Panfish Spring Rolls
Recipe makes about 12 spring rolls
1 lbs fresh panfish fillets
8 oz. drained water chestnuts
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp fish sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp palm sugar (or regular sugar)
1 medium carrot grated
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
12 rice paper spring roll wrappers
oil for frying
1. stir together the cornstarch and the rice vinegar until well combined then add all the ingredients accept the grated carrots to a food processor, mince the ingredients together then add the cornstarch mixture and pulse a few times to incorporate.
2. mix in the grated carrots and combine until evenly distributed.
3. lay out a damp dish towel flat on the counter, one at a time, dip the rice paper wrappers in water for a few seconds and then lay it out on the damp towel.
4. Place a quarter cup of the mixture in the center of the rice paper and then wrap into spring rolls.
5. Heat your oil to 350 degrees and fry in batches for 5-6 minutes
6. serve the spring rolls with a Thai fish sauce, hoisin, oyster sauce or any sauce you would like.