Tomorrow it will be Valentine's Day, Lovers' day, stationers' day, caterers' day, florists who sell hackneyed roses (you don't know that, but roses are the flowers that I hate the most) day . The web goes crazy for cake pops, chocolates, chocolate covered strawberries, hearts, sugar paste and sentimentality of every kind, but I will be immune from this sort of things.
You see, I'm a romantic with a capital R, I deeply believe in love (and feelings, in general) and I appreciate every single act that could come from the heart, but I don't believe in the social convention that dedicates a day to mawkishness (which for me are very different from romantic gestures), a day where you have to write notes, dedicate all kinds of bad and trite love songs or buy flowers and chocolates, without really feel any need or desire for it.
Here, this is this spirit that I don't like, that pale sense of obligation that lies behind this day. I swear, this is not the speech of a cynic, or the speech of a confirmed single and disenchanted woman (maybe a cat lady, with all due respect for cats and their fans), but this speech comes from someone who has great faith in feelings and in everything that comes from them and who, therefore, is suspicious of all that is "due", when it comes to feelings.
So to "celebrate" this day, I chose a dish that has nothing romantic, the spring roll … if you want to make this preparation with your loved one, you'll stink of fried food, it's not an aphrodisiac food (unless you find aphrodisiac foods that have a vague phallic shape) and it doesn't even remotely recalls the conventional idea of a romantic dinner, but it's very good and digestible (in spite of certain indigestible rolls that you may find in some Chinese restaurants, at least in Italy), and this is not a trivial matter.
I am truly democratic: you can choose to celebrate a "heart and kisses" St. Valentine's day (and this is not the place for you … but you could use this recipe – and I would try the chocolate and chili combination), you can choose not to celebrate it at all or to do so something anti-conventional (and in this case some spring rolls and/or some home-made Chinese dumplings will be fine) or you can decide to celebrate St. Faustino (in Italy it's the day dedicated to single men and women) … and, well, at this point why do you care about the stink of fried food?!
But, in any case, I'm not denying a roll to anyone … Have a great St. Valentine's day, you all, lovers or not (and if you fall into the latter category, I wish you to fall in love, 'cause I think it's always a good thing).
Ingredients (about 25 little spring rolls – 10 servings)
* spring roll pastry
* 450 g pork meat (for me beef meat)
* 3 slices of fresh ginger
* 150 g bamboo
* 12 dried Chinese mushrooms
* 4-5 spring onions
* 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
* 180 g soy sprouts
* 3 tbsp clear soy sauce (I didn't find it)
* 1 and a half tbsp cornstarch, diluted in 3 tbsp of water
* 1 egg, lightly beaten
* oilseed, to fry
Cut the meat into small strips and cut in matches ginger and bamboo. Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for 25 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, squeeze them, cut out the stems and cut the caps into thin strips. Cut the spring onions in a half lengthwise and then finely chop them.
Heat 5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a wok; when the oil is hot, add ginger, mushrooms and meat, and season with some salt. Sauté over high heat for a few minutes, then add spring onions, bamboo, soy sprouts, soy sauce and cook for another few minutes, until the meat is ready. Add the cornstarch diluted in water, let thicken for about 30 seconds, then pour the mixture into a bowl and let it cool.
Take a sheet of spring roll pastry (thawed, of course .. follow the thawing instructions on the packaging) and put one of its angle towards you. Place two tablespoons of the mixture just below the center of the sheet, then fold the bottom corner twice over the filling; then fold the side corners towards the center and, finally, fold the upper corner (brushed with beaten egg) over the filling, sealing the roll (I followed these directions, but if you want to get an idea of how to do it, look here). Continue until you finish all the ingredients.
Heat the oilseed in a wok and, when it's hot, fry the rolls, not more than 3-4 at a time (so that the oil temperature doesn't lower), flipping them often. After about 4 minutes the rolls will be golden brown, ready to be removed from the oil and placed to drain on paper towels.
Serve them piping hot, with some soy sauce or sweet-and-sour sauce.