In case you haven’t come across a German fan cheering lately, this (“Berlin, Berlin…”) was probably one of the most used phrases Saturday night. Germany was the first team to enter the quarter finals (Germany versus Argentina, next Friday in Berlin) and people have been partying all night long!
Who would have thought? Two weeks ago even the biggest optimists didn’t expect the German soccer team to play such successful AND attractive soccer. Actually the Argentinean press made a comment about it – much more than a comment – rather a compliment, welcoming Germany to the game of soccer. I don’t think we’ve been playing that lousy for the last years, but what we get to see in this World Cup is a different league – no pun intended.
The many people who believed that the World Cup may have a positive effect on our economy all seem to have been right on. Living in Munich (and probably anywhere in Germany at this point) feels a whole lot different these days, a noticeable change in atmosphere would be the understatement of the year. Locals as well as people from all over the world, soccer fans or not, carry an extra big smile on their faces throughout the day – which may be a totally normal thing in other spots of the world, but not necessarily in Bavaria. The typical experience would definitely include grumpy waitresses or police officers, unfriendly shop assistants and bus drivers. We just live with it, trying not to complain too much about it and keep our own vim and vigor. Having the World Cup in one’s country is always an exciting event, but we are all pretty blown away by its positive impact on our daily life. And I’m not only talking about the countless evenings spent together with friends watching the games (all of them in fact, not only the Germans’) and preparing lots of finger food.
Soccer is everywhere right now. There is no restaurant, pub or cafe that is not equipped with a large screen TV (or two or three) for its guests, the bakery around the corner sells not only “Arena bread” but also green cakes and football-shaped muffins… You can order special World Cup menus and there is not a single shop that hasn’t changed its decoration in favor of a soccer theme. You don’t just meet with your friends for a nice evening, you gather to watch the games and party afterwards. The weather god clearly means well (I think he’s getting carried away a bit) and obviously wants to make up for the half-hearted Spring deal. We’ve been having sunshine day in day out since the World Cup started over two weeks ago.
Last Friday was play time, I had a day off and was on my way to the Asian grocery store at Rosenheimer Strasse around the corner when I ran into the Swedish soccer team at the Hilton Hotel. The huge police presence wasn’t half as amazing as some of the hard core and very pretty fans. This way for more soccer impressions…
Even though we wouldn’t begrudge any other well playing team to take home the Cup, there is a striking reason why Germany has to win: Jürgen Klinsmann, the German team coach. He’s one of the few team coaches who will not hold back his enthusiasm, but show it in a very extrovert way (especially after his team made a goal): Jumping for joy, bouncing up and down like a rubber ball, shouting and cheering like a little boy, he got this whole nation brimming with excitement!
Meanwhile, until the next game is on, we’ll be preparing more finger food such as these tasty Spring pockets – essentially they’re spring rolls, simply in a different shape – & crispy sesame chips.
Unfreeze (if needed) spring roll wrappers and cover with a wet kitchen towel.
Cook noodles briefly in boiling water (per instructions). Cut, mince and chop ingredients. A quick word on ingredients: Usually I forget to buy the one or other ingredient, which really doesn’t matter that much. Almost all of them are exchangeable and we discover new combinations every time (also try with shrimp, fresh coriander)…
In a wok or pan, heat 2 tbsp of sunflower oil. Add the ground beef/pork and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes, add the ground chilies, stir. Then add the carrots, sprouts, noodles and finally the green onions. Stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender but still a bit crunchy. Season with sweet and regular soy sauce, add a bit of fish sauce (careful, this one is salty!) and oyster sauce. Stir. Remove from heat. Drain excess moisture from pan.
Feel free to experiment with different formats and shapes or just go with the standard roll. To make one side stick to another when folding, use the egg white as “glue” – this should help to keep its shape and prevents it from falling apart during the frying process.
Heat more sunflower/sesame oil in a wok (medium to high). Place a maximum of 3 or 4 pockets at a time in the hot oil. Deep-fry until crisp and golden. Remove with a skimmer and drain on paper towels. Serve with sweet chili or plum sauce. Cold on the next day, they’re just as delicious. Rolls may even be prepared ahead of time and frozen, then fried when needed.
The sesame nibbles are a quick, yet nice add-on to the pockets. A bit of egg white helps the sesame to stick to the cut wonton wrapper (=spring roll wrapper) while frying for about a minute. While you sprinkle the white and black sesame seeds you may want to add a tiny pinch of coarse sea salt for an extra kick. The dip we served with it was a mix of crème fraiche and sweet chili sauce as well as a mix of crème fraiche and plum sauce – definitely a quick win, now on to the next matches…
Spring Rolls/Pockets (basic recipe)
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: about 45 to 60 minutes
Ingredients (serves about 4):
Amounts pretty much depend on your own taste, experiment!
250g ground beef and/or pork
1-2 egg white (to brush edges)
2 carrots, grated
100g dried bean thread noodles
a handful fresh bean sprouts
3-4 green onions, cut very fine
Season with (parts mentioned are starting points, feel free to adjust to your liking):
soy sauce (1 part)
sweet soy sauce (1 part)
fish sauce (1 part)
oyster sauce (3 parts)
ground dried chilis (up to 1 tsp)
spring roll wrappers, about 8" in -diameter
sweet chili sauce
Recipe source: Fiona Smith, Dim Sum, p.9
Prep time: about 20 minutes
Ingredients (amounts by guess and gosh):
wonton/spring roll wrappers, cut into small squares (or other shapes)
white and black sesame seeds
coarse sea salt
sunflower or sesame oil
as a dip: mix sweet chili sauce or plum sauce with creme fraiche (ratio about 1:1)