Pan Gai Yoh (Crispy Spring Rolls)

There are very few special occasions in the Lao community that don’t include a big platter of Pan Gai Yoh.

Make the dipping sauce first:

1 cup dry roasted peanuts
7 serrano chilies, trimmed (seeded if you wish)
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
juice of one lime
1 cup boiling water

Crush the peanuts to a fine meal in a mortar. Remove them, then mash the chilies, garlic, salt and sugar together in the mortar, until they’re reduced to a fine paste (adding the granular ingredients helps mash the garlic and chilies). Add the ground peanuts back to the mortar, along with the fish sauce and lime juice. Add the cup of boiling water, mix well, and set aside until ready to serve.

Prepare a typical Lao vegetable platter, using lettuce and some or all of the other items listed:

Leaf lettuce
scallions (trimmed snd slivered)
fresh coriander (leaves and tender stems)
mint leaves
2 tomatoes, cut in thin wedges
bean sprouts
1/2 recipe Kaopuhn noodles (see recipe for Kaopuhn)

Cover the vegetable platter in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Make the spring rolls:

2 oz sen mee (saifun cellophane noodles)
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 lb. lean ground pork
1 small onion, sliced very thinly
2 medium eggs
1 T. fish sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
5 colves garlic, minced fine
1 pkg. frozen spring roll wrappers (defrosted)
vegetable oil for deep frying

Put the cellophane noodles to soak in warm water for 20 minutes. Bring 2 qts. water to a boil and drop in the bean sprouts, count to 10, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Let drain. Combine the pork, onion, bean sprouts, eggs, fish sauce, salt, sugar and garlic and mix well. Drain the cellophane noodles and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut them into 2″ lengths and add them to the pork mixture. Mix well.

Separate a spring roll wrapper by peeling back one corner, then pull carefully to separate, always keeping ahold of the wrapper where it is attached to the others, so that it doesn’t tear. Separate them all, then cut each one in two diagonally, from corner to corner. Keep them under a cloth towel while you assemble each roll.

Place a half-wrapper with the apex of the triangle pointing away from you. At the base, put a heaping tablespoon of the filling, and pat it into an oblong shape. Fold the two side points over then roll up from the base. Moisten the tip with a little water to make it stick.

When all the Pan Gai Yoh are assembled, heat 1/2″ of oil in a heavy skillet to about 350 degrees. Fry the Pan Gai Yoh, turning frequently, until they are a rich brown all over. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Cut each roll into 4 pieces. Pile the pieces on a platter and serve with the vegetable platter and the dipping sauce.

Diners take a piece of lettuce leaf and place on it a piece of Pan Gai Yoh, whatever they want from the vegetable platter, and some Kaopuhn noodles, then fold the lettuce leaf up, dip it in the sauce and eat in one or two bites.

Pan Gai Yoh keep well in the refrigerator for several days, though they do get soggy. Reheat, wrapped in aluminum foil, in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

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