Ground chicken in hoisin sauce, two ways

As much as I like to try out new recipes, I always fall back on simple stir-fry dishes for many of our family dinners.  When time is short (and it always seems like everything needs to get done right around the dinner hour), it's easy to stir-fry up some meat, throw in some vegetables or tofu, and add a little sauce to bring it all together.  Meanwhile, the rice cooker bubbles away and provides the rest of the meal.
Ground chicken cooked in hoisin sauce, topped with scallions and peanuts, served over rice
If stir-fry "recipes" are my secret weapon for putting a quick meal on the table, then I must have certain Asian pantry ingredients in my arsenal.  The very basics include soy sauce and sesame oil; beyond that, I'd say oyster sauce is my secret weapon.  I like to stir it together with some water and cornstarch - then pour it into the pan with what I'm cooking, and I have an instant sauce for my stir-fry. 

Today though, I'm thinking about another Asian pantry sauce that I like to keep on hand and use for both cooking and as a dipping sauce.  It's hoisin sauce, or what translates into "seafood sauce" in Chinese.  It doesn't actually have any seafood in it.  Some call hoisin sauce the Asian barbecue sauce but I'd describe it as a thick, sweet sauce that has a certain umami flavor to it.  It's made with soybeans, sweet potatoes, sesame seeds, and sugar, to name a few ingredients. 
Hoisin sauce is often used as a dipping sauce, slathered onto the wrapper or bun for Peking duck, for instance.  We like to put some on Asian fish balls.  When I was growing up, I loved drowning some steamed rice noodles with hoisin sauce for a snack or meal.  The sweetness is a little addicting!  I don't use it all the time but if you're looking for a quick Asian flavor boost for your stir-fry and you're in the mood for some sweetness, this is a good option (I particularly like to use it to make a sauce for diced chicken and cashew nuts). 

I often make stir-fry with ground turkey because my son loves it.  For a little variety, I also like to use ground chicken.  This stir-fry dish here is simply ground chicken cooked with some grated garlic, ginger, and scallions.  A simple mixture of hoisin, soy sauce, water, and sesame oil makes for a quick sauce.  I topped it with some crunchy peanuts and served it over rice but it makes a great filling for lettuce wraps.  If I had some shiitake mushrooms on hand, it would be great in this dish, as would some shredded carrots.  That's the beauty of a stir-fry; you can add so many things to it and use what's lingering in your fridge.

Repurpose leftovers...and make spring rolls!

I was watching the Pioneer Woman this weekend and the show was called "one thing leads to another" and that's what I had in mind here.  I'm saving some leftovers to make something else.  Now, speaking of leftovers, I've come to truly appreciate it to the point of making sure I make too much so that I'll have leftovers!  When I was making this Asian chicken stir-fry dish, I thought I'd reserve some and use it as a filling for...spring rolls.  
You see...I've wanted to make spring rolls at home for ages now.  This is actually my inaugural batch. Years ago, I'd always opt for the crispy, fried kind but being more health-conscious in recent years, I now go for and appreciate the soft kind of spring rolls that you'd typically find filled with shrimp, vegetables, and some thin vermicelli noodles.  Unfortunately, the ones I order at restaurants are often hard and dried out so making some at home, to eat fresh, has been a goal.

So right in time for Fall, I made "Spring" roll...but I think this warm version makes a nice snack/meal at any time of the year.  It took me this long to make spring rolls because they always seemed a bit of a project, requiring you to steam shrimp and chop up/prep the various fillings to do the job.  Well, I had the idea to go for a bit of a short-cut, by using some appropriate leftovers as a filling, when I saw this post that uses leftover peanut noodles as the primary ingredient for the rolls.  I thought it was a great idea, and I could picture lots of possibilities.   In short, re-think spring roll fillings!  (Though maybe I'm the only one who'd never thought of the possibility!)  Repurposing leftovers like this cuts the prep time down and makes for tasty results.
So for my shortcut rendition, I used some leftover ground chicken in hoisin sauce we had the night before as the primary filling in my spring rolls.  I added vermicelli noodles (that only require a few minutes soak in hot water, which I then used to soak my wrappers) and some shredded carrots (another easy task thanks to my julienne peeler).  Best part - I made the easiest, 2-ingredient dipping sauce by stirring a little bit of warm water into hoisin sauce to thin it out.  It was fast and very tasty!  

For the spring rolls:
I used these wrappers I bought at an Asian grocery store:
They're just over 8 1/2 inches in diameter and while you'll likely find smaller ones as well, I think the larger rounds are the way to go since it makes handling/rolling easier.  I've always been a bit nervous about working with these delicate wrappers, or spring roll skins, but it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought.  And I particularly like the uniquely soft, thin skins of spring rolls. 
In addition to the leftover ground chicken in hoisin sauce, I wanted to add some traditional vermicelli noodles into the spring rolls to bulk them up.  I used the ones shown above.  I made 3 large rolls with my leftovers and used just half of one package.  These thin noodles only need to be soaked in some just-boiled water for about 3 minutes.  Then, I removed the noodles and used the now warm water to soak the spring roll wrappers.  
For other spring-roll making novices like myself, it may be helpful to know that they are pretty easy to make.  You need a gentle touch but if you're not too concerned with perfectly formed rolls, it's a simple enough process. 

To assemble, have everything in place so you can work quickly.  Soak a spring roll wrapper for just a few seconds in warm water until it starts to bend and become pliable but is still slightly firm (it will continue to absorb the water and become softer) and lay it out on a flat surface like a cutting board.  I laid my filling - shredded carrots, some vermicelli noodles, then a few spoonfuls of my leftovers - down near the middle of the round.  Gently pick up the edge of the wrapper nearest you and fold it over the filling.  Then, I folded in the sides and continued to roll it to a close.
You need a little dipping sauce and this couldn't be easier.  Just two ingredients!  Take some hoisin sauce and thin it out a bit with some warm water.  That's it!  This is something we've done to go with things like pork ever since I was a kid. 
These spring rolls are best served on the spot after rolling.  If necessary, you could keep them for a few hours by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap, not touching each other (to prevent sticking), so they stay moist.  I also put a damp paper towel on top for a little added insurance.  If you need to refrigerate them for longer, I suspect steaming cold spring rolls is the best way to revive them. Otherwise, you might end up with those cold, hard, disappointing, spring rolls you sometimes get at a restaurant. 

That's my little fun for today.  Hope this inspires you to put a little twist on your leftovers!


Recipes:  

Asian Chicken with Hoisin Sauce
Inspired by this recipe from Rachael Ray

- Serves up to 4 - 

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon canola oil
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb. ground chicken
2 large garlic cloves, grated 
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
4 scallions, chopped, reserving the greens from 2 scallions
2 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
Rice, for serving (optional)

In a measuring cup, combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and water.

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes, if using.  Add ground chicken and cook, breaking up the chicken with a wooden spoon or spatula.  Cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes.  If there is a lot of liquid at the bottom of the pan, drain/spoon out the majority of it. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions (except for reserved greens).  Cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in hoisin sauce mixture and cook for another 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens and is throughly combined with the chicken.  Taste, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.  Sprinkle the top with the reserved scallion greens and chopped peanuts.

Ladle on top of rice and serve immediately.  (If desired, reserve some of the chicken mixture to make spring rolls below).


Asian Chicken Spring Rolls with Hoisin Dipping Sauce
Inspired by leftovers and this recipe from Love and Lemons

For spring rolls, you'll need:
Spring roll wrappers
Leftover Asian Chicken with Hoisin Sauce (above), warmed
Vermicelli noodles, cooked by soaking in boiling water for 3 minutes
Shredded carrots

For hoisin dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons warm water

To make spring rolls, place spring roll wrapper in warm water for a few seconds until it just begins to soften but it still slightly firm (it will continue to soften as it absorbs the water).  Lay wrapper on a clean cutting board or towel.  Place filling ingredients in the middle of the wrapper horizontally.  Gently pick up the wrapper edge nearest you and fold it over the filling.  Fold in the two sides and continue to roll to a close.  Continue making spring rolls with remaining ingredients.

Stir water into hoisin sauce to make a dipping sauce.  Rolls are best served immediately, with dipping sauce alongside.  To keep for a few hours, wrap spring rolls individually in plastic wrap (to prevent sticking) and cover with a moist paper towel.











34 comments:

  1. I like to make similar homey stirfries like this, but often with oyster sauce. These spring rolls look particularly fresh and appetizing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, I would be lost without my oyster sauce. That is my go-to as well when it comes to flavoring my stir-fry but I had this in mind because I really wanted to finally use my spring roll wrappers and give that a try!

      Delete
  2. Love stir-fries too and really love that you used leftovers to make healthier spring rolls. That's such a great and tasty idea! Definitely making me hungry looking at them - is it wrong that I want some for breakfast? haha :) Have a great weekend Monica!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha - I could eat all kinds of things at any time of the day and year, too, Kelly. The spring rolls were fun...one of those things I've wanted to make at home and finally did.

      Delete
  3. Nice and forgotten flavors in my house! Thanks for a tasty remainder!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right - sometimes it's easy to forget those go-to basics.

      Delete
  4. Your spring rolls look terrific. And I'm a big fan of stir fries as a way to use up the random ingredients in my fridge!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, just like fried rice. I'm glad I learned to cook more in the last few years so I waste a lot less. I used to throw so many things out of my fridge but not now! : )

      Delete
  5. I am always a huge fan of spring rolls. The texture of the wrappers is chewy which I love! It is such a great way to use up some leftover ingredients in spring rolls. Sounds DELICIOUS!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love that thin, chewy texture, too! I won't be so shy about those spring roll wrappers going forward.

      Delete
  6. Damn delicious recipe!!!
    my Asian tastebuds gonna be dancing with it....

    ReplyDelete
  7. He he Monica... we seem to be liking and cooking similar things. I made a prawn hoisin stir-fry a couple of days back and was contemplating whether to post it. Like you, stir-frys make my life easier all the time and an Asian pantry is the best way to achieve it. Both your dishes look and sound incredibly good. Why have I never thought of adding Hoisin to chicken mince! Lovely recipes...I'd love to make both of them soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the beauty of having a recreational food blog - we can post whatever we want/when we want. : ) And what I want is your prawn stir-fry! It sounds wonderful!

      Delete
  8. I should not read food blogs before dinner! haha you are making me so so hungry right now! I love making stir-fries during the week. This looks delicious - as do those spring rolls!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. haha - hunger-inducing is good! I love basic Asian stir-fries; those pantry items pack so much flavor so quickly. The spring rolls were surprisingly easy and good. : )

      Delete
  9. Great recipes Monica - I love getting two meals from one batch - leftovers are our friends. I've always wanted to make spring rolls too - love them! Have a wonderful week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tricia. It's nice when one thing leads to something else...it worked out pretty well!

      Delete
  10. The stir fry looks like a wonderful weeknight dinner and I bet the ground chicken really soaks up the flavor well. I never think to use ground meat for a stir fry. The spring rolls look gorgeous. I've wanted to make them for a long time, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it really does. I love the grated garlic and ginger, too. Adds a lot of flavor. Do try the spring rolls...easy and tasty! :)

      Delete
  11. I am all about quick and easy and during the busy week. We eat alot of Asian stirfries as well. I don't use hoisin sauce so very much but that sure does make things easy with few ingredients needed. Love your idea for leftover ideas. Tonight I made Korean, not so very quick and easy as it always requires so many little dishes and lots of prep/marinating and all that work and they boys had it demolished in less than 5 minutes. Really... Wishing you a super weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't use hoisin all that much either but I loved it (on those rice noodles) so much as a kid. Given all the sweetness, it's not for everyday but it packs a nice flavor for the spring rolls and such. The Korean feast you made sounds amazing. It truly is crazy how much work can go into a meal and how quickly it can all be devoured. I guess that keeps us busy. ; )

      Delete
  12. This looks delicious - by looking both dishes, it's hard to pick, but most likely I'd do the same... spring roll the next day! :D Love hoisin sauce! That sweetness is kind of addicting. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Nami. The sweetness of hoisin is definitely a bit addicting! I never thought about it as a kid but now I try not to use too much, too often since it does have a lot of sugar. I need to save room for dessert, you know? ; )

      Delete
  13. Gah Monica! I have 3 bottles of Hoisin in my pantry. Stir frys are the absolute best for quick, weeknight dinners - so I always keep this staple on hand. I am super impressed you did spring rolls. I have *always* wanted to try them, but they look so daunting! I want to come eat at your house! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No kidding! 3 bottles is very impressive! I'm glad I'm not alone on the spring rolls...turns out, it is pretty easy and if you have leftovers you can "stuff" them with, it's not nearly as big a project as it seems. And believe me, I think food is much better at your place!!

      Delete
  14. oh.... i love both! Now I have a problem in choosing between two of them! They both look delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Love this post Monica! I have always wanted to make those lovely spring rolls but have been a bit daunted by how delicate they are. Thank you for such great tips. Hoisin is a favourite in our house :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it always seemed daunting and such a project to get all the little add-ins ready to make the spring rolls. They really are not bad to work with. Just barely wet them, remembering they continue to soften, and off you go! Using some leftovers to put inside is a good, shortcut way to start. : )

      Delete
  16. Wow Monica, just seen your new look blog!! I am loving it - so chic!! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jo - you noticed!! You're the first and I'm so glad you like it. The blog was in sore need of some blush and lipgloss, I think. ; ) It only took me 3 years or so...

      Delete
  17. You redecorated, Monica! How pretty! I love the delicate colors and the Asian inspired floral prints on the banner flags! When you call this blog "recreational" you are only referring to your attitude of having fun with it. The new look, the photos, your recipes all say "professional"! :) Stir-fries of many kinds are our go-to quick meal (as well as occasionally more elaborate planned meals). Ground chicken is a staple at our house and though its not "authentic", its quick and easy and what I have on hand most of the time. My daughter's stir fries are more complicated because they involve lots of veggie chopping (she is vegetarian) and specially purchased gluten free sauces. Thankfully, there are more and more gf Asian sauces readily available. I am very intrigued by the Spring Rolls because the ingredients on the wrappers appear to be gluten free! This will be my next Monica Inspired Culinary Adventure! p.s. No one will believe this is the first time you made those rolls. They are beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah...Wendy! "Redecorated" is the perfect way to put it. This space is such a cozy place for me to go to and it really needed some light touches. I didn't know know how to begin to do that (still don't have much of a clue, to be honest) but I think this works for me for now. :)

      Thank you for all the kind words. You always make me blush in the sweetest possible way. I am always taking out my amateur-badge because I don't want anyone mistaking me for anything but! Honestly...I'm afraid I make myself sound more knowledgeable than I am! : ) Glad you like the stir fry and spring rolls. I'm glad your daughter is so well versed in the kitchen. There is a lot of work involved with being a vegetarian and eating well, I think.

      Delete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...