Fresh spring rolls
The new New Zealand is making better cooks of us all
The other day I jumped in the car, braving Auckland’s traffic to head over the bridge to a Korean food market in Albany. Earlier in the year a colleague turned up with the gift of a bunch of fresh shiso (perilla) leaves and a stunning portable Korean barbecue purchased there, so I’d been hanging out to get up there myself to check it out.
Walking into the store was like being in Koreatown in Los Angeles. The signage was all in Korean, the products were all Korean, and everyone spoke Korean and hardly any English. I had no idea what half the stuff for sale was, but there were so many things I wanted to try. I came away with red rice (my local Korean takeaway makes a fabulous bibimbap using this tasty, nutritious rice), fresh kimchi and a couple of packets of rice paper wrappers. I could easily have stocked up on every imaginable Asian pantry supply — and it was all so cheap.
More than 200 ethnic groups are recorded as living in Auckland and it is now considered more culturally diverse than London or Sydney. With nearly 40 per cent of Auckland residents born outside New Zealand and nearly a quarter of these identifying with one or more Asian ethnic groups, it comes as no surprise that there’s amazing Asian food and a huge range of Asian ingredients here.
But it’s not just Asians who are changing the face of the New Zealand plate. Half of the Middle Eastern, Latin American and African ethnic group populations in New Zealand also live in Auckland. Head towards Penrose and you will find some amazing Lebanese food. Sandringham is a hub for all flavours Indian, and wandering down Dominion Rd you can pretty much eat the world. From all over the globe, immigrants are bringing us the flavours and dishes of their homelands, making our food scene one of the most dynamic in the world. This is the new New Zealand, and it’s making better cooks of all of us.
Tasting a new ingredient opens the door to a new culture and, with it, new ways of looking at food. Before long you find yourself referencing these new flavours in your own cooking, in new and fresh ways.
Rice paper wraps are a great example of the way a new ingredient assimilates and morphs into our Kiwi culture. We buy them, noting how cheap they are, and, back in the kitchen, quickly establish how easy they are to work with (there are just a couple of tricks – watch me showing Niva Retimanu the ropes at nzherald.co.nz).
We make some rolls, likely starting with the tried and true classic Asian combinations. In such a simple way our culinary language expands and morphs. At home, these ingredients make everyday cooking so much more interesting. Like all of the Springboard Recipes in my new book Essential, once you know the basic formula, you can change up the ingredients to suit the seasons, your mood and what you’ve got to hand in the pantry. This is the new New Zealand food scene. Aren’t we lucky!
PORK AND PRAWN SPRING ROLLS WATCH ANNABEL AND NIVA RETIMANU MAKE FRESH SPRING ROLLS WITH PORK AND PRAWNS AT NZHERALD.CO.NZ