I used to serve tinapa (smoked fish), salted eggs and tomato spring rolls as an appetizer. Then, I discovered that by modifying the proportion of the ingredients, they become filling enough and more boldly flavored to be paired with rice.
I didn’t invent this recipe. One of the law school girl friend parties I went to over the Christmas holidays back in 2013 was hosted by my friend, Sol. We live in the same town although on opposite sides. One of the dishes she served was fried spring rolls with tinapa and itlog na maalat (salted eggs) filling.
The spring rolls were made by her husband, Deo, and they were truly delectable. I may not have said so to Sol and Deo at the time (I was too busy chatting, attacking the fried chicken and refilling my glass with mojito), I wish I had, and I guess this is my way of saying that the spring rolls were so unforgettably good that I was still thinking about them a week before Valentine’s Day in 2014 when I first posted a recipe for it.
For non-Filipinos, tinapa is traditionally eaten with rice with a side salad of chopped tomatoes and salted eggs. It’s an all-day breakfast dish and the best way to enjoy it is to have a piece of fish and a small portion of the tomato and salted egg salad with every spoonful. You get a flavor explosion with the smokiness of the fish, the creaminess of the salted eggs and the crunchy tartness of the tomatoes.
All those textures and flavors are captured in small bites with these spring rolls. If you have all the ingredients, the preparation and cooking are pretty straightforward.
First, shell the salted eggs and crumble by pressing with the back of a fork.
To remove as much water as possible from the tomatoes, halve them, scoop out and discard the centers that contain the seeds and pulp.
Cut the tomatoes into small cubes.
Next, peel the tinapa, discard the skins and flake the fish. We use boneless tinapa so flaking isn’t such a headache.
After that, toss together the tinapa, tomatoes and salted eggs with sliced scallions. You now have your filling.
Take your spring rolls wrappers and use them to wrap the filling.
Then, it’s frying time. Deep frying to give the spring rolls an even color and texture.
And that’s it. Cut the spring rolls into halves or serve them whole. With rice for a complete meal or by themselves as a snack or appetizer.
Tinapa (Smoked Fish), Salted Eggs and Tomato Spring Rolls
- Halve the shelled salted eggs, dump into a mixing bowl and press with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Halve the tomatoes, scoop out and discard the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into cubes smaller than ¼ inch.
- Finely chop the chili, if using.
- Discard the skin, head and tail of the fish. Flake the flesh.
- Thinly slice the scallions.
- Mix together the tomatoes, chili, salted eggs, fish, scallions, mint and cilantro. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to blend.
- Wrap one heaping teaspoon of the filling with the spring roll wrapper (see illustrated guide on how to wrap spring rolls). Repeat until all the filling has been used.
- In a fryer, heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches.
- Fry the spring rolls (in batches if necessary) until browned and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
- Half fill bowls with rice, top with spring rolls and serve, optionally, with lettuce and cucumber on the side.
- Recommended dipping sauce: Vietnamese mixed fish sauce.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.