Friday, September 23, 2011

Vegetable and Mint Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I had made vegetable spring rolls once before, but I wanted an actual recipe this time, one with a little more pizzazz than what I had tried before. This one fit the bill, though they are still highly adaptable: I used oyster sauce instead of fish sauce, I omitted the rice noodles and I ended up not using bell peppers, because of a grocery store snafu (we had a package of 3 bell peppers in our cart when we realized that the individual bell peppers were on sale and cheaper than the prepackaged ones, so we put those back and somehow forgot to get the individual ones instead). I also used Korean pepper instead of red pepper flakes. We really loved these rolls, and they were a perfect dish for a hot summer day. I still have to work on my tension when I roll the rice paper, but I’m getting there! We had enough rolls for a meal for two people.

For the sauce
2 Tbsp creamy organic or natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
½ tsp of red pepper flakes (or Korean pepper)

Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.

For the rolls
1 ½ oz cellophane noodles (I omitted them)
½ tsp sesame oil
red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 of a seedless cucumber
1/2 of a medium carrot, peeled
1/2 of a red bell pepper
5 baby radishes or 2-3 medium radishes
1 scallion, chopped
½ Tbsp rice vinegar
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp fish sauce (or oyster sauce or vegan substitute)
juice from 1/2 lime
2 Tbsp cilantro leaves
16-24 fresh mint leaves (mine were big, so I used fewer)
8 rice paper wrappers

Cook the cellophane noodles according to the package directions. Drain the noodles, put them in a bowl, and toss with the sesame oil and a dash of red pepper flakes.

Use a mandoline to slice the cucumber and carrot into thin strips, or simply julienne by hand.

Whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and the scallion, and toss to coat.

Fill a round cake pan halfway with hot water. For each wrapper (one at a time!), immerse it in the hot water bath until it softens, which takes about 30 seconds. Lay it on your work surface and fill it first with about 1-2 tablespoons of noodles (you want to have enough for 8 rolls). Then, add 1/8 of the veggie mixture. Add a few sprigs of cilantro and 2-3 mint leaves, depending on how large they are. To roll up your roll, first fold the edge of the wrapper farthest from you over the filling, then fold in the edges towards the center and continue rolling the filled wrapper towards you until it's closed and snug. If you want to be especially decorative, place the mint leaves closer to the front edge of the wrapper, so that they are rolled into the last layer and show through the top of the finished roll. Continue this process with each of the wrappers. You may need to change your hot water halfway through. As you finish each roll, place it on a cookie sheet and cover the rolls with a damp towel.

To serve, slice in half with a sharp knife and serve the peanut sauce on the side.

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