In my ongoing research I keep moving forward, or at least try to. Recently I’ve been reviewing my notes on producing an Egg Batter Dough, going back to basics, and looking at what is a batter and what is a dough. Essentially they fall on either side of a continuum of similar products. Chief differences relate to stiffness AND Mixing Method.
Up until now I’ve been focused on the ingredients and how to combine them without actually trying to understand where this item fits into Australian culinary tradition, or on the continuum that lies between Crepe at one end, and Bread at the other.
So what is it, this, CHIKO Roll?
Essentially, it is a meat and vegetable filling, coated in a batter/dough/paste and deep fried.
That is, it is a Risole, or a Croquette. A mighty big one.
How did McEnroe make the mental leap from, “Spring Roll” (Chinese Egg Roll) to Croquette? What a question that is...
Now, as for the filling there’s not much mystery there and we’ve discussed that at length in an earlier posting. The mystery is however is in the dough.
Is it pastry? Like empanada, or Pyroghi. Is it breaded? Like a croquette. Is it a yeast, egg leavened, or chemically leavened dough? Like Pâte à Choux, fritter batter, or soda bread. Is the dough firm, or thick and juicy? Like pasta dough, or corn dog batter. Is it breaded? Like fried risoles, schnitzel, or tempura.
So many questions.
I believe that the dough is a firm dough, leavened with egg, and breaded with fresh, fine, dry breadcrumbs. Their coarseness is dictated by the, “hand painted ends,” which is a fancy way of disguising the fact that the ends are, dipped in egg wash and then in bread crumbs.
Is the rest of the roll also breaded?
Texture. Surface texture is the key.
I believe that the roll IS fully breaded, but then, it is rolled and rolled, and rolled to impress the crumb into the dough and to dust off anything loose.
Now, the dough… Oh what a traumatic line of inquiry that is! We know now, that fried risole dough is short crust pie pastry, which is then dipped and breaded before deep frying in very hot oil. However, CHIKO Roll dough is not a pie/pasty paste. That’s a fact.
Could it be a very thick batter that is then lightly rolled in bread crumbs before frying? The inner texture of the dough does not reflect such a method, as you’d expect to find bread crumb granules dispersed into the batter coating, and inspection does not bear such observation out.
Fried Pasta Dough? Unfortunately the short answer is its too dense. Again, the CHIKO Roll casing is somewhat dense but it doesn’t have the textural qualities of a pasta dough.
So, what then?
It is my belief that the casing is a dough/paste made initially with medium to hard peak egg whites, folded into a well rested flour water egg yolk batter, which is then lightly folded with extra flour to make a soft to medium firmness dough. It is not kneaded or worked extensively, and very likely, uses a low protein flour. The dough is left to rest to allow any gluten bonds to relax. It is either rolled before or after, the rest, so that it is ready for making rolls.
The filling is applied very cold and in a firm consistency to the dough. The dough is rolled up in a continuous roll, then washed with egg wash, rolled thorough a breadcrumb shower then over grating to shake off loose crumbs. further rolling consolidates the bread crumb into the surface of the dough. The roll is then portioned and the last step is, perhaps completed manually – dipping the ends in egg wash and breadcrumb before being sent off to the baking and frying line.
What does all this mean, for the home enthusiast?
Make your filling. Roll it up firmly (like boudin) in plastic wrap and chill it well. Roll out your dough, put the filling in, roll it up and carefully seal the egg washed seam. Dip the roll in egg wash and then lightly roll in very fine, dry bread crumbs. Dust it off, roll it again but don’t egg wash, in bread crumbs, dust and then dip and coat the ends. Fry in very hot oil until golden for immediate use, or until biscuit and then cool and freeze until ready to use.
Make no mistake, getting the dough right is an important aspect. There is no recipe here, yet, because I haven’t sorted it out yet. However, if you are an expat, are overseas, have a desperate urge to make a CHIKO Roll kinda dish because of nostalgia, for God’s sake, don’t use Spring Roll Wrappers! You’d be far, far better off, taking a loaf of unsliced white bread, cutting off the crusts, cutting it lengthwise and then rolling the slices very thin with a rolling pin, and use THAT flat bread as your casing for a CHIKO roll. Its much, much closer to the real thing.