May 29, 2011

Spring Rolls

Two posts in one day after months without a peep? Yes! I am prone to my particular excesses.

Spring rolls are amazing in the summer. I am not going to call these "easy," as there is a modicum of skill and some deep prep involved in assembling the mise en place. But they are a good project for a weekend afternoon, if you are crazy like me and enjoy the meditation of preparing many little components just so.

- spring roll wrappers
- rice vermicelli, cooked, drained and chilled (I used the thinnest I could find, but this would actually be more authentic with the next size up)
- shredded chicken
- carrots, julienned and quick-pickled (a splash of vinegar and 1 Tbsp sugar, add water to cover)
- basil leaves
- mint leaves

Dry spring roll wrappers are discs of rice paper.

Soak them in water for about 15 seconds per side. Too long and they will get waterlogged and slippery and won't stick properly when you go to roll them.

Then transfer to another surface for assembly (a slightly moistened cookie sheet, in my case)

Plop the noodles on the round wrapper, slightly off center. You want them to be on the side that is closer to you.

Add all the other fillings.

Now start rolling. Always roll away from yourself, as this makes it easier to get a nice compact package instead of a floppy roll.

Do this a bunch of times. Your first few will probably be floppy and ugly. Eat them immediately to destroy the evidence of your failure. I usually eat at least 2 while making them because being a one-woman operation means I have to conduct my own QC audits.

Peanut dipping sauce:
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- a splash of sesame oil
- a splash of rice wine vinegar
- minced garlic, or garlic powder
- chili paste, or red pepper flakes
- 3+ Tbsp water to thin

Basil Limeade

It is summer. My basil planter is full to bursting, and I've had to harvest 2x weekly to keep up. I didn't have anything planned for this weekend's harvest, so I came up with basil limeade.

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
3 limes
1 lemon
fistful of basil
Club soda

Heat the water and sugar until the sugar is all dissolved. Zest all the citrus and add it and the juice to the hot syrup. Chop the basil leaves and add them to the mix.
If you are patient, chill the syrup in the fridge before proceeding. If not, fill a glass with ice and pour 3-4 oz. syrup over ice. Top off with club soda. Enjoy your summer.