Mauritian Spring Rolls, also known as Hakien!
Hakien is a particularly distinctive dish in Mauritius, mainly made by people of Chinese origin. From what I have been able to gather, it is a dish of Hakka Chinese origin, an unusual variety of what is commonly known as spring rolls, made even more interesting by the fact that the traditional version does not use wrappers at all. Instead, the filling is shaped into a log, then dipped in batter before being fried for the first time, then again coated in a thinner batter before being fried again. This double coating and frying results in a final product with an exceptional crunch on the outside with a juicy, crunchy and very flavourful filling on the inside.
My Hakien of choice was always made by our former neighbour Jean-Claude who was a fabulous chef. It was something that he made for me every time I returned to Mauritius. He was kind enough to teach me to make it and he comes to my mind every time I have them, regardless of whether they are made by myself or someone else.
My friend Alison, her husband Damian and I were recently filming the making of this dish for my YouTube Channel, and I saw her eyes lighting up as I was making the dish. Since we were on camera, I had to wait to see what she was remembering. When we finished filming that section, I asked her to try the Hakien. She took a bite and told me that it was something that she had many years ago at a Hakka restaurant in Singapore, when she was living there. It was one of her dishes of choice at the time, but not really available in Singapore anymore. She ate it with a big smile and we were both happy.
Cooking Time: 40 Minutes. Makes 4 Servings
300g chicken, white boneless fish or prawn meat (it also works to combine chicken and prawn)
2 dried shittake mushrooms
1/2 large carrot, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup sliced cabbage or other vegetables
1 bamboo shoot, sliced into thin strips
3 -4 tablespoons cornflour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Oil for deep-frying
Soak mushrooms into hot water for at least 15 minutes, squeeze dry and cut into thin slices.
Finely mince chicken, fish or prawn, mix with mushroom slices and all other vegetables, salt and pepper. Use cornflour as required to bind the mixture.
Shape into logs and refrigerate for about 30 minutes
Make a batter with all purpose flour, salt, pepper, vegetable oil and water. Heat oil for deep frying, dip logs one at a time into batter, remove and drain. Be very careful not to overcook.
Dilute remaining batter with water to make a much thinner batter. Repeat process by coating cooked logs into thinner batter and fry lightly again. Remove from oil, drain and allow to cool.
Slice and serve with chilli sauce.