“Sawasdee pee maï” or “Happy New Year”! Today marks the first day of Thailand’s most celebrated holiday, Songkran, or Thai New Year, also known as Water Festival.
Aligning with the rising of Aries on the astrological chart and the hottest month in South Asia, Thai people celebrate the new year with cultural festivals that incorporate a kingdom-wide water fight.
In Thai culture, water is believed to be spiritually purifying, cleansing you of bad luck or grievances from the past year and blessing you with happiness in the year ahead. The theme of water in this lively Thai festival originated with residents collecting water that has been poured over Buddha statues for cleansing. The water was then used to bless village elders, which, eventually, over time, evolved into a playful water fight.
While North Americans may not be celebrating Songkran in the traditional Thai manner, we’ve got the perfect authentic Thai recipe courtesy of Mazola + PAI’s Michelin-recognized Chef Nuit Regular to whip up and enjoy for this year’s celebrations.
The founder and executive chef of beloved Thai restaurant, PAI; Chef Nuit’s Spring Roll recipe is an excellent choice to prepare for Songkran, as it is simple, delicious and easy to share. Chef Nuit explains, “Songkran is the biggest holiday in the Thai calendar. Living away from Thailand, I love being able to continue the traditions of my culture and celebrate with my family, my friends and my Thai community here.”
Chef Nuit’s Songkran Spring Rolls
For the filling:
45 g glass noodles
2 tablespoons minced cilantro stems
2 tablespoons minced garlic
8 medium dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 1 hour, squeezed dry, and thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
½ cup ground chicken
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut crosswise into 3-inch lengths and julienned (about 1 cup)
1 packed cup celery, finely diced
1 cup bean sprouts, rinsed
2 tablespoons Thai oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the spring rolls:
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons tapioca starch or cornstarch
20 (about 8.5”-inch) spring roll wrappers, at room temperature
3 tbsp + 4 cups Mazola Corn Oil, divided
Sweet Thai chili sauce, for serving
To make the filling:
Soak the glass noodles in room-temperature water for 20 minutes. Drain and cut into 3-inch pieces. Place in a resealable plastic bag to keep them moist and set aside.
Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add 3 tablespoons of Mazola Corn Oil. When the oil is hot, add the minced garlic and minced cilantro stem and stir for 1 minute. Add in the shiitake mushrooms and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the ground chicken and sauté for another 2 minutes, breaking it apart with a spatula. Add the julienned carrot and stir for 1 minute. Add the celery and bean sprouts and continue to cook, stirring for 1 more minute.
Season the mixture with the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, sugar, and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 2 more minutes.
Sprinkle in the glass noodles and mix to combine, cooking for 1 minute. Transfer the filling to a large bowl or plate and let cool to room temperature.
To make the binding mixture:
In a small saucepan, combine the water and the tapioca starch or cornstarch. Stir to remove lumps. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often, until it starts to thicken but is still runny, 20 to 30 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. (Alternatively, you can combine the water and tapioca starch in a small, microwave-safe bowl; stir to remove the lumps. Heat the mixture for 20 seconds on HIGH. Remove from the microwave and let cool before using.)
To make the spring rolls:
Separate the spring roll wrappers from each other. Stack them and cover with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out.
Lay a spring roll wrapper on a work surface with one of the corners pointing toward you. Place 1/3 cup of the filling horizontally about 1 inch below the middle line of the wrapper, leaving a 2-inch border at each side. This ensures there will be enough of the wrapper to close the spring roll. Fold the bottom corner of the wrapper over the filling to the middle, using your other hand to hold on to the filling. Use both hands to roll the wrapper up once to the middle. Hold on to the rolled part with one hand and pull the right corner across about 1 inch toward the center. Repeat with the left corner. Use both hands to make sure the filling is tight within the wrapper. Not being tight enough will make it soggy. Continue rolling a tight cylinder, leaving ½ inch of the top corner. Brush the corner with a little of the binding mixture, then continue rolling to close the spring roll. Repeat until all the spring rolls are made.
Heat the 4 cups of Mazola Corn Oil in a large wok or medium pot over high heat. Once the oil reaches a temperature of 375°F, reduce the heat to medium. Working in batches of 6 to avoid crowding the pan, use tongs or a spider strainer to place the spring rolls, one at a time, into the oil. Deep-fry until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes, gently moving the spring rolls through the hot oil with the tongs or spider strainer. Transfer to a large plate lined with paper towel. Repeat until all the spring rolls are cooked.
Let the spring rolls sit for at least 2 to 3 minutes before serving. Serve with the sweet chili sauce.