Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Asian Food Kick

I've been craving Asian food recently.  I don't know why... but I want everything with rice, soy sauce, and all those other "typically" Asian tastes and flavors.  I got a jump start on the week when my friend had us over for dinner and served Vietnamese spring rolls.

At least, I've always heard them called Vietnamese spring rolls, they are also known as fresh spring rolls, Vietnamese salad rolls, and sometimes summer rolls.  They look very pretty and are really not so difficult to make.  Ingredients vary based on what you want/like.  My friend made vegetarian rolls, using vegetables she had on hand.  I made mine with chicken.  They make a great meal and can either be pre-made, or you can have your guests make them for themselves.  It would be really fun to have a roll making party, and everyone can put in or leave out whatever they want.

My friend generously gave me the rest of the rice paper and rice vermicelli that she had left over, so I decided that tonight was Spring Roll night.  Really, the only mandatory ingredient is the rice paper, everything else is up to your taste and what you want to put in, quantities are also flexible for whatever size group you have.

Here is my approximate recipe:

Vietnamese Spring Rolls:

Rice paper (they come in a plastic pack, dry - you could probably find them at an Asian food store or possibly a grocery store in the Asian food section, but I couldn't find them at Safeway)

Rice Vermicelli - this I did find at Safeway, so I'd try the Asian food section at your grocery store.

Chicken thighs, trimmed and sliced thin
1/2 medium onion, julienned (cut into matchsticks)
Korean marinade (you could use any chicken marinade you like, or no marinade at all, I found one at the grocery store that I tried, it was a little spicy for me, but the Husband liked it)

2 medium carrots, julienned
1/4 large cucumber, julienned
1/4 small head of cabbage, sliced thin and marinated in 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sesame seeds (you could use chopped lettuce without the marinade, but I love this Asian-ish coleslaw)
Chopped peanuts
Fresh bean sprouts
Basil leaves
Cilantro (you can include the stems)
Hoisin Sauce (also check the Asian food section)
Water, in a container big enough to dip the rice paper in.

Marinate the chicken and onion in the Korean marinade (enough to coat, it doesn't need to swim in it) for at least 30 minutes.

Wash and prepare the vegetables, I arranged mine on a plate for easy roll making.  Marinate the cabbage in it's dressing (less than 30 minutes is fine).  Chop peanuts if you're using them.  Sliced almonds could also be nice.

Carrot, Basil, Cilantro, Cabbage, Bean Sprouts, Cucumber

Cook the chicken and onions on medium heat until browned and cooked through.  Set aside (I added lime juice after the chicken was cooked).

Cooked chicken & onion

Prepare the vermicelli noodles according to the package directions.  Mine called for being soaked in water (warm or cold) for a few minutes and then strained.  I think it took longer than the package said but still not very long until they were tender.

To assemble the rolls:

Dip the rice paper in water (very briefly, just until it is coated in water, it will soften while you fill it) let the excess water drip off.  Put the wet paper on a plate, it will get a little sticky, but you should be able to peal it off.  Add your ingredients to the center of the rice paper (you can put it slightly closer to one edge), don't over stuff it, because that will make wrapping more difficult.

I started with a basil leaf, then cilantro, chicken, cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, cucumber, noodles then hoisin sauce.

Start by wrapping the back edge over your filling.

Then fold in the two sides to make an envelope.

Roll the center to the remaining edge - like a burrito.


It's ok if the rice paper breaks a little, it sticks to itself very well.  I served mine with two dipping sauces, the Hoisin sauce and a spicy pepper sauce, which you can put in the rolls as well.  The chicken was plenty spicy for me!

These rolls are delicious and a very pretty way to eat your vegetables :D

1 comment:

  1. This looks very good and easy. Thank you for posting this recipes.