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Vegetarian Spring Rolls
For ten rolls:

1 pack wrappers
1 sheet usu-age (thin deep-fried tofu)
2 large fresh shiitake
2 thin-skinned green peppers (or spring onion)
similar quantity of bamboo shoot (or bean sprouts)

1-1/2 Tbs Japanese-style soy sauce (maybe less, if Chinese-style)
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 Tbs sake/sherry/Chinese wine
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp toubanjian (Chinese chili paste) or a good shake of chili powder
pepper if liked

Mix together all the seasonings. Pour boiling water over the usu-age,
drain, cut in half lengthways, then slice finely across the width.
Slice veggies into julienne strips. Heat a little salad oil in a
wok or frypan, and fry all the solid ingredients together until
wilted. Add seasonings, stir in well, then set aside to cool a

Separate the spring-roll wrappers (it's easiest to divide them into
twos or threes, then peel off individual wrappers). Have a small
bowl of clean water ready.

Place one wrapper on the work surface so that it looks diamond-shaped
(if there's a difference between the two sides of the wrapper, put
the rougher side downwards). Lay about 1/10 of the filling in a
row near the lowest corner, like this:
_/ \_
_/ \_
_/ \_
_/ \_
_/ \_
_/ \_
/ \
< >
\_ _/
\_ _/
\_ **filling** _/
\_ _/
\_ _/

Flip the lowest corner up over the filling, then roll the filling
and that corner of the wrapper upward once. Fold in the outer
corners so they overlap, then continue rolling up the spring roll
loosely. Just before the uppermost corner disappears, dip your
fingers in the water and dab a couple of drops on it. It won't
stick immediately, but if you then place the completed roll on a
wire rack with the damp corner underneath, it'll dry sealed.

Deep-fry or freeze the spring rolls as soon as you've finished
rolling. Test the frying oil by dropping in a tiny piece of
wrapper--if the oil is the right temperature, the piece will sink
and then immediately rise and make cheerful frying noises. In
too-cold oil, it'll just sit on the bottom sullenly; in too-hot
oil, it'll skitter across the surface. Fry only about 3 rolls at
a time, to prevent the oil cooling suddenly, and turn when they
start to colour underneath. (If you're frying deep-frozen ones,
"French-fry" them: fry them lightly for a minute or so, remove from
the oil, let them stand for a couple of minutes to allow the heat
to penetrate, then re-fry them.)


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