If you’ve been to Ms G’s, you’ve probably tried Dan Hong’s cheeseburger spring rolls. And whether you’ve tried them or not, there’s now a new spin from Hong – with an Australian barramundi twist.
But you don’t need to book a table at the popular Asian-inspired Potts Point restaurant – or other Merivale eateries where Hong serves as executive chef – to sample this reimagining. You can make it yourself at home. Hong is sharing the recipe with us in the lead-up to National Barramundi Day on Friday October 20.
Hong is the ambassador for this year’s initiative, which sees restaurants around Australia offer an exclusive one-day-only dish showcasing the classic Aussie fish. More than half of the barramundi served in the country is imported rather than grown right here – National Barramundi Day is all about reminding chefs and diners alike to support local farmers.
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“Barramundi is arguably Australia’s national fish,” says Hong. “Aussie barramundi is the best in the world. It’s the sweetest and cleanest tasting. Obviously, it’s the most sustainable because it’s grown here and not flown over, but it really is the best tasting because of how clean our waters are and how amazing the farming process is here.”
One of the goals of National Barramundi Day 2023 is to raise awareness about the Australian government’s proposed changes to labelling laws for seafood, which would require seafood to be identified as either Australian, imported or mixed.
“Because barramundi is such an iconic fish, a lot of fish’n’chip shops and seafood restaurants will have it on the menu,” says Hong, “But they’re not using Australian barramundi. They’re banking on the reputation of barra, but then they’re using imported barra. If you’re unsure, it’s okay to just ask if the barramundi is local.”
Hong’s spring rolls make the most of barra’s distinctive taste. “Barramundi has this great flavour that stands up to the strong flavours of the tartare sauce,” says Hong. “It’s not quite mild; it’s a little bit earthy. A lot of fish in fish burgers are actually bland; they have no flavour at all. The barramundi still has a bit of flavour to add to a fish burger or spring roll.”
The Aussie barramundi re-creation of the cheeseburger spring rolls comes off the back of a barbeque hosted by Sushi E head chef Michael Fox, who played on Hong’s much-loved creation with his own fish fillet version. Hong then riffed on that fusion in celebration of National Barramundi Day – and the rest is culinary history.
Featuring bite-sized cubes of Australian barra with a blend of homemade tartare sauce and melted American cheese, these spring rolls get an extra crunch when wrapped in baby cos lettuce. And all the sauce is inside, so there’s no need to dip them.
You can make the spring roll mix a few days in advance, which actually gives it time to set and get a bit firmer. But once you assemble the spring rolls themselves, Hong advises cooking them immediately, so that they don’t go soggy in the fridge.
Dan Hong’s barramundi burger spring rolls
Makes approx. 20 spring rolls
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
1kg boneless and skinless Australian barramundi filets, diced into 1cm cubes
180g Japanese mayonnaise or good quality whole egg mayonnaise
120g dill pickles, roughly chopped
40g pickled capers, roughly chopped
15g fresh dill, finely chopped
25g fresh parsley, finely chopped
50g eschalot, finely chopped
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
5 slices of American cheese, cut into 1cm squares
20 spring roll wrappers
Baby cos lettuce leaves for wrapping
1 egg, whisked
Vegetable oil for frying
In a bowl, mix barramundi, mayonnaise, pickles, capers, herbs, eschalots, lemon juice and zest. Mix thoroughly with a large spoon until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. It should be creamy, a little tart from the pickles and lemon, and tasty from the seasoning.
Make the spring rolls by laying the wrappers on the bench in a diamond shape, then putting a heaped tablespoon of the barramundi mixture just below the centre of each wrapper. Carefully roll and tighten the wrapper up to halfway, then fold in either side and continue to roll up until you’re left with a little tip. Brush tip with egg wash mixture and seal. Continue until all the spring rolls are made. Store spring rolls in a single layer on a tray uncovered in the fridge until ready to fry. (Covering them will make them sweat and go soggy.)
Once you’re ready to fry, heat a deep pot of vegetable oil to 160 °C and then carefully fry the spring rolls in batches. Don’t overcrowd the pot or fryer, as it will drop the temperature of the oil. Ideally, frying 4–5 spring rolls at a time is best. They will take around 5 minutes to cook through and get golden brown.
Drain the spring rolls on absorbent paper and serve them with fresh lemon wedges and lettuce cups to wrap them.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with the Australian Barramundi Farmers Association.