Wednesday, July 14, 2010

M.Y.O.S.R. -- Make Your Own Spring Rolls!

File this one under "Because You Can." Also, under "Easy to Consume with One Broken Arm," "Fits In Pocket," and "Freshalicious."

One pack of rice papers (dehydrated) from my Asian market costs approximately nothing (actually, you can see the price tag in the photo) and, if the Vietnamese were into things like expiration dates, you might see a date well into the next century stamped right next to "Machine Made!" on the lid. To the left of the shamrock. Naturally.

Actually, spring rolls are a fantastic alternative to the sandwich, which is sooooo yesterday's post (literally). You can stuff them with anything that's finely shredded and moisture free, and they'll last a couple days in the fridge if you can't shovel all six at once. Be sure not to skip the fresh basil leaves here, as they are imperative to the springy taste.

Also, don't get discouraged if your rolling skills take some practice. My first few attempts at spring rolls were loose, chaotic messes. It takes a little finesse to pull as tightly as possible without tearing the paper. You'll probably never get as good as the folks at the take-out restaurant, but you'll love them because they're yours.

Vegetable Spring Rolls with Baked Tempeh and Peanut Dipping Sauce
makes 6 rolls, takes 45 minutes with tempeh, about 15 without

For the Tempeh:
1 8-oz container tempeh
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh ginger, or about 1 tsp dried
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp toasted Asian sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seed

For the Spring Rolls:
8-inch round rice papers
1 cup (scant) shredded cabbage, very dry
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
12 fresh basil leaves

Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. For the tempeh: Slice your slab into 10 logs. Mix water, soy, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes together and pour into a small saucepan over medium high heat. Lay tempeh logs in a single layer over the bottom.Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450ยบ. Brush a shallow baking dish with the sesame oil. When all the marinade is absorbed, transfer tempeh slabs into baking dish and sprinkle with half of sesame seeds. Turn and sprinkle with other half. Bake 15 minutes, turn, and bake 15 minutes more. Let cool.

  3. For the rolls: In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrot, and scallions.
Make yourself a nice workspace with all your ingredients laid out, a clean dish towel in the middle, and a pie plate or large bowl filled with warm water. Start by submerging your rice paper into the water until pliable, about 10 seconds. Transfer to kitchen towel and blot dry. Plop about 1/3 cup cabbage mixture on the bottom 1/3 of the rice paper round. Top with 1 1/2 tempeh logs and 2 fresh basil leaves.Lift the bottom edge over the filling and fold the two sides in toward the center. Roll as tightly as possible without tearing the paper. Set on a plate, seam side down. You go, girl (or whoever).
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce
pinch cayenne, or a dash of hot sauce
water (3-4 Tbsp)
  • Combine all ingredients except water in food processor and spin until smooth. Add water until a desirable dipping consistency is reached.

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