“Joe's Steam Rice Roll” 136-21 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing
Steam billows from every crevice of the shiny metal box in the shop’s center. Joe Rong, the owner of Joe’s Steam Rice Roll, stands over it, patiently. He is waiting for the seemingly magical creation that is his steamed rice roll: tender and thin, rice paper filled with lightly seasoned ground pork and chives.
Moments later, he pulls the first sheet from the machine with his bare hands, and quickly rolls up the rice-water-turned-noodle into a crinkled roll. With a large blade he cuts it into two-inch pieces and slips it onto a plastic plate or to-go container.
Rong had never cooked before he began selling steamed rice rolls in his Flushing shop, and that was just two years ago. Unable to find one of his favorite foods amongst the hundreds of Chinese restaurants in New York, he journeyed back to China. Until recently, his family owned a restaurant in Taishan, just south of Hong Kong. So when Rong returned to his hometown, he turned to his uncle who had been running the restaurant.
“‘Just go to any restaurant you want, and you taste all of the rice rolls,’” Rong recounts his uncle telling him. “‘And when you decide which one’s better, I will ask them to teach you.’”
Read on to find out how Joe mastered the art of making fresh rice rolls. Malia Guyer-Stevens is the editorial assistant at Edible Queens and is a freelance writer and photographer.