Friday, July 23, 2010

Spring Rolls

I had it in my head that I had everything to make spring rolls for our small group night on Thursday. Well, I had almost everything. I realized that I was out of the rice noodles that go inside of the spring rolls. Looking through the shelves, I had ramen noodles or a partial box of angel hair pasta. I gave the angel hair a try and was pleasantly surprised--they really turned out pretty good! So, there's an encouragement and reminder to everyone: give yourself the freedom to substitute may find something that works great!

So, this is more of a "concept" than recipe. The beauty of spring rolls is that you can fill them with just about anything on hand. The wrappers are really just a vehicle for your fillings. In fact, if you can't find the rice paper wrappers (look in the Asian foods section) put your fillings in a tortilla and you have an Asian-style wrap!

Spring Rolls:

  • Rice Paper wrappers
  • Rice vermicelli (also known as "rice sticks") or angel hair pasta, prepared according to package directions and rinsed in cold water
  • carrots, cut into thin matchsticks
  • cucumber slices, cut into think matchsticks
  • lettuce leaves, torn into small pieces
  • any combination of fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, mint and thinly sliced green onion
  • cooked meat, seafood or tofu (traditional is often to have boiled shrimp and roasted pork, I used teriyaki tofu and leftover grilled chicken) (recipe for teriyaki tofu below)
Dipping Sauce: combine:
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce (like an Asian barbecue sauce, found in...wait for it...the Asian foods section)
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
Make sure to have all ingredients set out and within arms reach ready to assemble (the cooking term for this is "mise en place," or everything in its place). Dip individual sheets of rice paper into a shallow dish of warm water until slightly softened (about 5 seconds). Lay flat on a cutting board. Then, layer fillings lengthwise across the center of wrapper. It's most attractive to put the protein first, then layer with the carrots and cucumber, herbs and greens and finally, a small mound of the cooked noodles. Take one side of the rice paper wrapper and fold up over the fillings. Like you're folding a burrito, then fold in the sides and finally, fold the long end over both folds. The wrapper is a little bit sticky, so you can lightly press the sides together and they'll hold together. Please tell me you've folded a burrito before, because that was a pretty terrible description of folding! Serve chilled with dipping sauce.

Teriyaki Tofu:
1 package extra firm tofu
1/4-1/2 cup of your favorite teriyaki sauce*

Open tofu package and drain water. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch slices. Place in a gallon-sized freezer bag in a single layer.
Freeze until solid (or whenever you're in the mood for some tofu steaks).
Remove from freezer and thaw in the fridge.
Once thawed completely, squeeze out excess water. Put back into bag, add teriyaki sauce (or favorite marinade) and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes (up to 24 hours).
Spray a skillet (or grill pan or George Foreman grill) with non stick spray and over medium high heat, sear tofu slices until browned (about 5 minutes). Flip and brown on other side. For spring rolls, chill or allow to come to room temperature.

(*I am a big fan of the Soy Vay products, but Trader Joe's makes a good one and even King Soopers carries a Kroger brand of teriyaki glaze that's pretty good)

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