Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No-Cook Vietnamese Spring Rolls


This week's theme for FN Dish's Seasonal Sides: No-cook. My first thought was to make an Ohioan confectionery called buckeyes - think of a spherical Reese's cup. I'll save that for another time. Besides, technically, the chocolate has to be heated. Healthy has been my thing since I've been back to blogging while living in Los Angeles. I went with Vietnamese spring rolls with a spicy peanut sauce. A favorite of mine, both to make, eat, and share. It always makes for a perfect appetizer for parties. They are healthy, light, visually appealing, and there is nothing to cook: hydrated rice wrappers, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, shrimp, tofu, and herbs. (I had a couple of leftover "sea sticks" that I used to make rolls; I like shrimp + tofu best.) The only caveat is that the rice wrappers can be tricky to work with and the preparation and making of these are more like an assembly line than free-flow cooking. Everything must be ready to go when assembling these bad boys.

The sauce is one of my favorites that I usually can't get at restaurants since it's usually not gluten-free. All four taste components of Southeast Asian cuisine are there: salty (fish sauce/soy sauce); tangy (rice vinegar); spicy (chili sauce); and sweet (peanut butter/agave). This indulgent sauce is the perfect compliment to the super fresh and light rolls. Even though this technically is a side dish, I found four of these make a perfect dinner.

Ingredients:
10-12 rice paper wrappers
1 seedless cucumber (Japanese or English), finely julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned
2 large leaves of leafy lettuce, chiffonaded finely
1/2 tub of extra firm tofu cut into strips
20-24 cooked shrimp, cut in half
fresh mint, cilantro, Thai basil (optional)
1 tablespoon smooth/creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon of GF tamari/soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon agave

Directions:
  1. Get your mis-en-place together, i.e., prep, cut, and organize all the vegetables, tofu, shrimp, herbs on a platter/plate/board. Have another board with a damp tea towel or paper towel to assemble the rolls, and another board for the completed rolls. Also prepare a large, flat container of lukewarm water to hydrate the rice wrappers.
  2. Submerge a rice wrapper into the water. Allow to soak for half a minute. Carefully remove with both hands and lay it towards you on the wet cloth on board and make sure it's flat without any folds. My first couple tries, I always break - these can be used as practice rolls or just throw away. You'll get it after a couple of practice runs. Once the hydrated wrapper in down flat ready to assemble, submerge the next wrapper in the water.
  3. Pretend you're making a delicate burrito - stack in the bottom center portion some tofu, veggies and up towards the top, place a couple of herb leaves and two halves of a shrimp with the pretty side down in order to see it in the roll. Fold up the bottom of the wrapper over the filling snugly, fold in each side and carefully roll up until all wrapped up into a pretty roll. Place on platter. Repeat, repeat, repeat until all made. Make sure the rolls do not touch each other - they stick bad! If not serving immediately, wrap individually in plastic wrap and store in the fridge.
  4. For the peanut sauce, in a small bowl combine the peanut butter, fish sauce, tamari, chili sauce, vinegar, and agave. Taste and adjust as needed.
I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Sensational Sides Food Fest. Check out The FN Dish. The spring food we're focusing on here is anything "no-cook." On twitter, we're tagging #SensationalSides. Here are other delicious recipes to help you save energy and discover new ways to eat "raw": 

1 comment:

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