When Nellie Wong was growing up, she made fish paste from scratch. She’d scrape the fish filet off the bones and mix it with egg white. Today, fish paste is readily available in frozen tubs at Asian markets. Look for a light grey emulsion the color of fresh fish meat. Don’t buy a product that’s light brown or darker grey, a sign it’s been frozen too long. Traditionally, this recipe only uses fish but Nellie prefers a combination of pork and fish, adding ginger and sherry to neutralize the “fishy” smell. You can also stuff vegetables with the paste.
Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 4 to 6 servings as part of a multicourse family-style meal
1/2 pound ground pork (1 cup)
1/2 pound fish paste (1 cup)
4 water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 medium dried black mushrooms, rehydrated and finely chopped
2 green onions, cut into thin rings (1/2 cup)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger (from a 1/4-inch piece)
Ground white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons water
4 large eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
Soy sauce and sesame oil, or light sauce (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, mix all the stuffing ingredients together to form a thick paste. Set aside.
Make the egg crepes one at a time. Beat 1 egg lightly with a pinch of salt in a small bowl using a pair of chopsticks or a fork. You don’t want to introduce too much air and the egg to become frothy.
Lightly brush the base of an 8-inch nonstick skillet with oil and heat over medium for 1 minute. Swirl in the egg mixture to coat the bottom of the skillet in a thin, even layer. Cook until the omelet surface is nearly dry and the underside is light golden, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Lift the edge of the omelet to check. Flip and cook for another 1 minute or so. Slide onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Set aside to cool.
Nellie making the egg crepes
Set up your steamer.
Fill the steamer pan half full of water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium until you are ready to steam.
When the crepes are cool enough to handle, spread one quarter of the paste (about 1/2 cup) evenly over each crepe, leaving about a half-inch gap all around the edge. Roll into a fat cigar and seal the edge with a little paste. Place the roll seam-side down on a greased pie plate (or any rimmed platter) that will fit inside a steamer without touching the sides. Repeat with the remaining crepes, arranging them in a single layer on the plate. The size of your steamer will determine how many rolls you can steam at a time.
The pork and fish-stuffed rolls are ready to be steamed
Return the water in the steamer to a rolling boil. Set the plate of rolls in the steamer basket or rack. Cover and steam over high heat for 20 minutes, or until the filling is firm and no longer pink.
When done, turn off the heat and wait for the steam to subside before lifting the lid. Lift it away from you to prevent condensation from dripping onto the rolls, or scalding yourself. Carefully remove the basket or the plate and set the rolls aside to cool. Repeat as many times as necessary.
When the rolls are cool, transfer them to a serving platter and cut into 1-inch diagonal pieces. Reserve the “drippings,” the juices left at the bottom of the plate, to make the sauce. Drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil to taste or light sauce (recipe follows).
If you don’t have a brush to lightly grease the bottom of your skillet, wrap a 5-inch square piece of paper towel around the tip of a chopstick with an elastic band to form a “sponge.”
1/2 cup drippings (make up the difference with chicken stock if necessary)
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water to make a slurry
Heat the drippings in a small saucepan over medium heat until it starts bubbling. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and mix until the sauce thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle the sauce over egg crepe rolls.
Use the inside edge of a teaspoon to scrape the papery thin skin off fresh ginger. It works better than using a peeler or a paring knife which creates more waste than necessary.