These were an experiment that turned out really good, but not necessarily as expected. This is basically just a batch of red chicken curry cooked down so the sauce is really thick, then added with some cellophane noodles to a traditional rice-paper spring roll wrapper and fried.
The “fried” part is what didn’t turn out as expected. The steam from the cooked noodles actually expanded one of the wrappers like a squeezed balloon and it burst open. The wrappers also soaked up a lot of oil. Regardless, they were really good, but I think they’d be equally good without frying. Next time I would use a traditional spring roll pastry wrap, which is better suited for frying.
Whether you try to fry them or not, because these are filled with chicken curry, they’re really good.
What you’ll need
(makes a full recipe of curry, so you’ll have a lot left over, unless you’re making a ton of spring rolls)
- 1 14oz. can of coconut milk or coconut cream—don’t shake it before opening
- 1-2T pre-made curry paste (red, green, yellow or massaman work)
- 0.75 lbs. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat and cut into 0.75-inch pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 4-5 oz, fresh mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 1-2T fish sauce
- 2 oz (or 2 bunches) cellophane noodles, cooked and cut up. These are also called vermicelli bean thread, and they are often packaged in small plastic bags with pink webbing over them.
- Spring roll wrappers— made of rice paper, if you want a disaster when frying, or the pastry wrap version, if you want them intact after cooking
What to do
Make sure your mis en place is set.
Start heating a high-sided frypan or wok over medium-high heat. While it’s heating, carefully open the coconut milk with a can opener and remove the top. When the wok is hot, add a tablespoon of neutral oil and swirl it around the frypan or wok. Scoop out a few tablespoons of the coconut paste at the top of the can and fry it for a few minutes until the oil starts to separate from the coconut paste. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons (2 = spicier) of curry paste and mix it in with the coconut paste cooking in the wok. After a couple of minutes, add the chicken, garlic, onion and mushrooms (if using). Stir-fry a few minutes until everything is coated with the coconut paste and curry. Add the remaining coconut milk from the can and partially fill the can with water, swirling it around and adding it to the wok.
Turn the heat down until the coconut milk just simmers, and let it cook, stirring every 15 minutes until the coconut milk has cooked down and thickened. It can take up to an hour to cook down, depending on the simmer rate.
When the curry is nearly finished, cook the cellophane noodles according to their directions, draining them and roughly cutting them up into smaller pieces. Let them sit until sticky and cool enough to handle.
At this point, the curry should be cooked, and the curry very thick.
Now to make the spring rolls. If you’re using rice paper—whether frying or not—submerge a wrapper sheet in warm water for about 15 or so seconds, until it is pliable. Remove it from the water and lay it flat on a work surface. Working quickly, add some of the noodles in a horizontal line about 1/3 of the way in from the edge nearest you. Then spoon some of the curry over the noodles. Flip over the right and left edges of the wrap a up to couple of inches, then from the edge nearest you, begin wrapping up the noodles/curry until it is a tight cylinder.
You can eat it, as is, or fry it in 350-degree F oil for a couple of minutes.
If using the spring roll pastry wraps, take a wrap and follow the same procedure as with a rice paper wrap, adding the noodles and curry before tightly rolling it up. I do believe those wraps need to be fried, so follow whatever directions for that on the wrap package.