Helsinki: Hoisin Chicken Roast + Discovering Fresh Spring Rolls

Weekend’s my favorite part of the week. This is the time where I can cook ‘ANYTHING’ me and R wishes to have. No holds barred! It has been a while since we agreed on ‘Soup Weekdays to Fry-day Weekends’ to make up for the unwanted calories that might have camouflaged somewhere around our bones. And so far, it has gone quite well.

Chicken is a our go-to ingredient for at least one of the weekend’s dinner. Spiced Chicken Wings is a ‘must’, Filipino Ginger Chicken Soup (Tinola) is unquestionable, a Portuguese Roasted Chicken Dinner with parsley’d garlic potatoes is a no-brainer for my Lusitano man.

A recent trip to the Asian Market to refill the pantry has made me take a pack of Vietnamese rice paper rolls to home for future use. I wanted to try a different chicken dish for our weekend. It was a nonstop quandary of making a different chicken dinner, or… going for the dependable-reputable chicken dishes that we have been making for our weekends. Well, I ended up taking the challenge of cooking something new for our ‘Winner Dinner, Chicken Dinner‘ weekend.

Here, is where our humble Roasted Chicken dinner ended up inside a roll doused with an aromatic citrus-fish sauce & then dipped in to a spicy peanut sauce before being devoured for dinner.

Savour this harlequin roll for your next weekend dinner. Uh-huh.
Savour this harlequin roll for your next weekend dinner. Uh-huh.

Read on and Discover my recipe!

Roasting that Chicken

The 3-piece pack of chicken thigh-drumstick from the shop is my ideal part for my roasting. I preheat my oven to 250°C before roasting the chicken pieces for about 45 mins. Take the chickens out from the oven and let them rest for half an hour.

Glass Noodles

Meanwhile, soak a roll of glass noodles (vermicelli) in hot water for 4 minutes until it’s rehydrated. Then pour the noodles onto a sieve and run through cold water while tossing gently for a minute. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil on the noodles while running your fingers through the threads. Set the noodles aside while you start with your knife skills and vegetable handling.

Them Vegetables

Vegetables. Yes. They’re good for you. I like eating them raw and crunchy on a salad. But if I have to cook them, I try to go for stir-frys and lightly-steamed versions. The good thing about slicing up your carrots and cucumbers or any sprouts you fancy for this dish is, you don’t have to cook them! All you need is to give it a good wash and slice them oh, so thoughtfully to make it even more aesthetically pleasing and appetising to eat.

So, off I go slicing a carrot to thin strips (that’s julienne to you!), chopping thin rounds from a red fiery chili finger for that heated surprise, carefully gliding a sharp knife for that curved purple shreds of an onion, and some nipped sprigs of leafy coriander and salad leaves. You can definitely use some other ehrbs of course! And if you happen to have any pickled radish or ginger on hand, well, go julienne those pickles!

I assumed half an hour for slicing a carrot, a chili finger, and an onion, with a couple of nips here and there for the leafies would be sufficient enough. Back to the chicken!

Pull that Chicken Off

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tender yums of chicken! taste and season as you go.

Don’t get me wrong, but pulling the meat and tearing those tender chunks from the bones gives me an indulging feeling of gusto. Whilst tearing the meat from the warm chicken, I try and get rid of those jiggly, grease-soaked excess chicken skins and save ‘SOME’ of the crisp-golden sheets aside. Take the meat onto a bowl and pull the chicken meat apart gently with your fingers. Take two spoons of hoisin sauce and add the same amount of the pan jus from the roasting pan and glaze the lovely shreds of meat evenly. Sprinkle some salt if necessary, and turn a couple of cracks of black pepper to finish.

Now, on to the assembly line.

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have everything ready in front of you, for a good flow of assembly.

Fill a big-rimmed bowl of cold water, enough for you to quickly glide the rice paper underneath the water to rehydrate and soften it. Take that bowl close to your chopping board. Have all the components just in front of you for quick and breezy assembly. Now, begin.

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peek-a-boo!

Dip the rice paper into the cold water for a couple of seconds and quickly lay on the chopping board. Now, take a piece of the lettuce a little bit on the mid-bottom of the wrapper. Snip the glass noodles and try and eye-ball the portions for 8-10 pieces of rolls. Lay the glass noodles on the lettuce, spoon over a couple of the chicken shreds, some of the carrots, onion, chili, and coriander sprigs.

Now comes the tricky part (at least for me). Turn over a the side closest to you, a third over the filling, tucking in loose ends, then fold the left and right side of the wrapper on top of the bottom fold to seal the sides. Then finally, tuck and roll the filling into the wrapper until it’s sealed! Ta-da! One almost decent looking spring roll!!

Now finish the rest.

When everything is finished, start slicing the spring rolls in the middle on an angle. place them thoughtfully overlapping each other on a platter and serve. But wait..

Of course, you can serve and eat this rolls as it is. But, if you’re feeling like you deserve a break from eating healthy, try mixing these ingredients for a simple citrus-fish sauce dip and spicy peanut sauce and serve this alongside your spring rolls.

Citrus-Fish Sauce Dip

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For the citrus-fish sauce dip, combine two spoons of fish sauce with the same amount of any citrus fruit (lime, lemon, or calamondi). Add a spoon of water, a teaspoon of sugar, and a finely chopped clove of garlic to add to that zing. I typically start with these measurements and adjust as I go. I’m happy with my citrus-fish sauce when the salty-sweet-sour taste is all at the same level. a crack of black pepper, some chopped chili, coriander leaves, and some carrots for a floating garnish to make a colorful kaleidescope dip.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

Pick. Dip. Eat. Repeat. Read on to find out how to make these harlequin rolls.

Now, for the spicy peanut sauce, take two spoons of chunky peanut butter into a bowl, stir in six spoons of hot water, a teaspoon or two of your favorite chili sauce/paste (I use sriracha or gochuchang), a dash of cider vinegar to slightly counter the richness of the peanut butter, a heaping teaspoon of soy sauce, and a couple of drops of sesame oil. When you feel like you want a more loose peanut dip, then add more hot water to your liking (a spoon at a time, ok?). Adjust the seasoning with soy sauce. Stir until you have a rich and glistening, pale orange mixture.

Dinner Time!
Here is how this should go.
Pick a roll.
Trickle down a bit of the citrus-fish sauce on the roll.
Dip the roll on the peanut sauce. Yes, dip it. Lightly.
Now Eat.
Repeat.

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So you think you’re up for a new thing on a weekend? Why not take one favorite dish and pimping it? I’m taking this challenge one dish at a time when my weekends allow me to lurk and stay in my kitchen.

Recipes should have a story. Recipes should reflect the person. It should make you feel like you’re with them cooking with you. Recipes doesn’t have to be the same like everyone else’s. Like baking bread, for instance (that’s for a different story, though).

But of course you have to start somewhere, right? So I’m here to share to you my kitchen misadventures and triumphs. Some tricks I learned through mistakes and miscalculations. Some secrets that I’ve been using to adjust an adored, and even a hand-me-down recipes to become my own. A story how a recipe came about. A recipe within a story. As how my Grandmas taught me. ♥

 

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