Asian Stir-Fry & Rice-Paper "Tatin"
I had a crazy idea this evening- to use rice-paper sheets on top of an Asian stir-fry in the same way that you would use a pastry on top of a French "tarte-tatin"!
Originally I was going to use the last handful of ground pork and beansprouts that I had in the fridge to make some Spring rolls... but then I thought to myself- that would just be too ordinary! Do something a little crazier instead!
And so I did this!
I have to admit that although it tasted wonderful, I did not get the timing absolutely right with the rice-paper cover/base and should definitely have baked and toasted it for longer... but you lives and you learns! And next time, I am sure the result will be much better- but as I just mentioned, the flavors were great and that always is the most important thing- I shall give you some hints and tips for you to get better results should you want to try this out...
The ingredients you choose to use for your stir-fry are not the defining element in this dish and basically you can use whichever meat and vegetables you have available, or have a personal preference for... the idea that made this different to a regular stir-fry was to cover everything with a few sheets of rice-paper, then pop it into the oven to bake and become crisp, and then to turn the whole thing upside-down as you would a tart-tatin.
As you can see, I used a combination of a handful of ground pork, a pak-choi, a small red pepper, a couple of Spring onions, about 1" of ginger, and a handful each of sugar snap peas and bean sprouts.
There were a couple of steps in the preparation that I could have carried out differently in retrospect and I will tell you what they were as we work our way through the pictures...
The first step was to finely chop the ginger and to cut the other ingredients into bite-sized pieces, ready to fry. I cut the pak choi in half to reduce the cooking time and turned on my oven to bake the rice paper shell in just a few minutes time!
And here it is, that weird and wonderful rice paper- this time not just reserved for wrapping wan tan's or Summer rolls... fun stuff, don't you think?
But, back at the stove top I started to get my dish put together- I first fried the ground pork, chopped ginger and red pepper together and as soon as the pork had all all changed color, I added the pak choi and let that sizzle away from both sides too.
I added the peas and onion later, seasoned with a little Thai fish sauce, a little soy, a teaspoon of 5-spice powder and some pepper, fried them for just 2-3 minutes and then pushed all of the ingredients together into the center of the pan.
I then placed a sheet of rice paper into a little warm water to soak and in the meantime, added the beansprouts to the other ingredients, raw and on top, as they needed the least cooking.
As soon as the rice paper was soft, I carefully placed it over the vegetables and then repeated the procedure with 2 further slices.
I added a few drops of sesame oil between each layer, for added flavor and to help the paper shell become crisper in the oven.
Once I had all three layers placed on top, I popped my frying pan back onto the stove top for 2-3 minutes to bring everything back up to temperature and then transferred it to the oven, pre-heated to 200°C and baked it for 5-6 minutes until the rice-paper dried out, puffed up and began to sizzle and pop and become crisp.
This is the step that I would do differently next time- and the reason that I would reduce the cooking time of the vegetables and meat beforehand. Because, although the rice-paper became lovely and crisp initially, there was so much heat remaining in the meat and vegetables beneath, that when I flipped it over to serve, by the time it was cool enough to eat, the steam and condensation from the hot food got absorbed by the rice paper and caused it to soften again- sadly!
So next time- less cooking time on the stove top and a little more in the oven- that is the first thing I would change. The second thing would be to bake each layer of rice paper for for 2-3 minutes each before adding the next. And the third would be to bake it for a longer time altogether, until it become a good deal browner... sigh! You lives- and you learns!
But still- this time around, I placed a plate on top of the finished dish, flipped it over and transferred it to a more decorative plate to serve. I added a little fresh coriander and a nice drizzle of Hoisin sauce for seasoning.
And as a finishing touch, a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds- mmm!
Oh, it may not have been perfect- but it was still rather good!
Everything you need is right there- meat, vegetables and rice... very little fat, lots and lots of flavor- and that's good enough for me!