Chapter 33: Spring rolls

Vietnamese_spring_rollsWorking at GTV9 in Richmond meant that I had a fifty-mile round trip to and from work. I was lodging with an English family.  I used to leave the studios around 11pm after the last programme had gone out.

I would drive down the Nepean Highway and stop off at a late-night fish and chip shop.  At that time, I could not eat the fish on offer. It was either flake, a fancy word for shark, or couda, a fancy word for barracuda.  The shark was tasteless and the couda was salty and tough. However, the Italian-run shop sold first class spring rolls, so I would get myself a spring roll and a bag of chips and then sit in my car outside eating them before driving off down the highway.

Here is a recipe of the period for spring rolls:


225g plain flour
1 egg
225g minced pork
3 onions cut into fine strips
113g finely sliced celery
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 dessertspoon of soy sauce
113g prawns, shelled and chopped
lard or oil.
Fry the onions, celery and garlic in a little lard or oil for 3 minutes. Add the pork and fry together quickly for 3 minutes.  Add the soy sauce, a sprinkle of pepper and the prawns.  Fry for another 3 minutes then put aside to cool. Put flour into a basin, make a well in the centre and add the egg.  Mix in and then add enough water to make a stiff batter.  Beat out the lumps, then gradually add more water unti lthe batter has  the consistency of pouring cream.
Heat a small frying pan, about 15 centimetres across, grease it evenly with lard.  Pour in one tablespoon of the batter, letting it run evenly over the pan.  Shake it quickly to form into a thin pancake.  Cook (on one side only) until the edges free from the side of the pan and loosen.
Turn out on to a flat plate to dry with the cooked side up.  Put a little of the filling on to the cooked side of each, oblongwise.  Fold up both ends first and then the sides, to make a roll shape.  Deep Fry in moderately hot lard until outsides are crisp and golden.
When it cools down a bit, bite off the top and pour in some lemon juice before devouring the rest of the roll.

I decided to move closer to the studios.  I found an apartment in one of the oldest buildings in Melbourne.  The story I was told was that the large house, once called Crossakiel, had originally been erected in Scotland and had been dismantled and re-erected in Melbourne. It seemed an odd name for it in that Crossakiel is in Ireland.


Crossakiel photo by Terry Gallacher

The landlady was Irish, but she did not name the house.

My first floor flat consisted of a balcony room, where I could sit out, in the rare evenings that I had off, surveying the suburb of Hawthorn.  Next was a large lounge with bay windows.  Then a small kitchen, a bathroom and a large bedroom. I paid A£7 per week, which included electricity.

My big surprise was that my landlady Mrs. Briant, cooked Sunday dinner for me. During the height of a Melbourne summer, I was offered roast beef, baked potatoes, a green vegetable and Yorkshire pudding. It was wonderful.

Another advantage was that I could cook for myself, something I had not been able to do for almost eighteen months.  I could also entertain my friends, especially some of those who I had met on the ship going out.

To see pictures of Crossakiel, click here:

Next Chapter: Chapter 34: In search of the Amber Nectar

© Terence Gallacher 2015.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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