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. Among the dishes she served was fried spring rolls with tinapa and itlog na maalat (salted eggs) filling made by her husband, Deo. They were truly delectable.
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.
Tinapa (Smoked Fish), Salted Eggs and Tomato Spring Rolls
- 2 salted eggs shelled
- 2 plump tomatoes halved, seeds discarded and cut into cubes smaller than a quarter inch
- 1 bird’s eye chili (optional) finely chopped
- 1 small bunch scallions finely sliced
- 1 small handful Thai basil torn into small pieces
- 2 tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish)
- 20 small spring roll wrappers
- cups cooking oil for deep frying
- rice to serve
- Halve the shelled salted eggs, dump into a mixing bowl and press with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Add the tomatoes, chili (if using) scallions and basil.
- Discard the skin, head and tail of the fish. Flake the flesh.
- Add to the salted eggs and vegetables in the bowl.
- Toss lightly but throughly until the ingredients are evenly distributed.
- 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 mangoes and cucumber on the side.
- Recommended dipping sauce: Vietnamese mixed fish sauce.