Sam had this idea of combining cheese and nori for fried spring rolls filling. I couldn’t quite visualize it so the idea remained an idea. Then, Alex mentioned that at Bar 1951 in Malate owned by her friend’s family, cheese sticks are served with nori and wasabi mayo. To be more precise, the nori-wrapped cheese strips are wrapped with spring roll wrappers, fried then served with wasabi mayo as a dipping sauce. That is a description that my brain could process and translate into real cheese sticks. Twelve hours later, I made cheese and nori spring rolls.
Why do I call them spring rolls? Because they are. Cheese sticks aren’t wrapped. They are dipped in batter or dredged in bread crumbs then fried. In the Philippines, fried cheese wrapped in spring roll wrappers are called cheese sticks. But they’re really spring rolls with cheese filling. So, these are cheese and nori spring rolls.
You can use any kind of cheese for the filling, but note that the flavor and mouth feel of the cooked spring rolls will follow your choice of cheese.
The cooking time is necessarily short so that the wrapper browns before the cheese liquefies in the heat. You want the cheese to soften but not turn too soft so that it does not seep out of the wrapper. So test the temperature of the oil before frying.
Cheese and nori spring rolls
- Make the dipping sauce by mixing together the Japanese mayonnaise, wasabi paste, lemon juice and scallions. Note that the ratio between mayo and wasabi is largely a matter of personal preference. I recommend starting with 1/4 cup of mayo and 1 tbsp. of wasabi paste. If you want more heat, add more wasabi.
Start heating the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. The depth of the oil should be at least two inches. Set the stove to medium setting.
- Wrap each cheese strip with nori, then wrap with spring roll wrapper (see how to wrap spring rolls) using the beaten egg to seal the edges.
- Test the temperature of the oil by dropping in a strip of spring roll wrapper. The wrapper should brown in less then 10 seconds.
- Fry the spring rolls in batches of four. Flip them when the sides are nicely browned (which means the underside would be nicely browned too). The frying time for every batch should take no more than 20 seconds.
- Scoop out the fried spring rolls, arrange on a plate and serve with the wasabi mayo.