Today’s Writing 101 exercise is to write about three important songs in my life and to be spontaneous and free-write. I found it hard to combine both these aspects and write about a food recipe that I had recently made. So, I planned to use the first part of the exercise and write spontaneously about a recipe I was most excited to share with you all – Vietnamese fresh rolls! Vietnamese cuisine is considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the world since they include a lot of fresh and leafy vegetables in their diet. The H and I would sure love to visit Vietnam some day. When I think of Vietnam, I think about this song Ding Ding Dong – Waipod Phetsuphan. Turns out that the song is actually Thai, but I like it anyway and can’t take the Vietnamese connection out of it, thanks to this wonderful Vietnamese coffee video that I watched a long time back (…and there’s my segway into the prompt for today – to link it to a song :P)
Yesterday, a couple of my friends and I had a picnic at a nearby park. One of my friend’s brought these rolls and they were an instant hit with all of us. Cool, light and refreshing, they were ideal to carry to a picnic. They can be prepared in advance when you have guests over or they can be made as an instant snack, once you have the basic ingredients, such as rice paper and rice noodles. These rolls traditionally use pork slices and shrimp but I’ve made the veggie version. You can get creative and stuff different kinds of veggies and sprouts and when you serve this along with a spicy peanut sauce, you will surely see happy faces. I made this today with whatever vegetables I had at home, so you might notice lettuce missing from them.
Source – My friend, Shishira
Preparation time – 15 minutes
Assembly time – 2 minutes
Makes 4 rolls
Here’s what I used:
For the peanut sauce:
- 3 tbsp peanuts
- 1 tbsp red chili powder
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- A few drops of lemon juice
For the rolls:
- A quarter portion of cucumber
- 1 small carrot
- A few strands of coriander/cilantro
- A few mint leaves
- A quarter portion of green bell pepper
- A small block of tofu (I used paneer since I don’t like tofu)
- A handful of rice vermicelli noodles
- Rice paper sheets as required
- 1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
How to make it
- In a small pan, a tsp of sesame oil and lightly roast the chopped garlic (You can skip this step if you like the flavor of raw garlic).
- Once the roasted garlic has cooled down, add all the ingredients together and blend until smooth adding a few tbsp of water to thin it to a dipping consistency.
- Taste the sauce and add honey, soy sauce or chili powder based your preference.
- Slice tofu/paneer into thick juliennes and sauté in a pan with a few drops of sesame oil.
- Take a pot and heat 1-2 cups of water. Once it is boiling, add the rice noodles and a pinch of salt and let it sit for 3-4 minutes or as instructed on the back of your pack of noodles. Strain the noodles and save the hot water.
- While the tofu/paneer is getting roasted, cut the cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers into juliennes, as shown in the picture.
- Wash and dry the cilantro and mint leaves.
- When the tofu/paneer is sufficiently roasted (3-4 minute), add a splash of soy sauce and remove from heat.
- Now, for the assembly. Pour the warm water left from the rice noodles into a wide-mouthed vessel. Remove a sheet of rice paper, dip it for 2-3 secs in the warm water and place the smooth side down on your working surface. I used my cutting board.
- Place the cucumber followed by the rice noodles on top it, about 2 inches away from the edge of the rice paper. Follow this with the tofu, bell peppers and finally the carrots and the herbs.
- Roll tightly starting from the cucumber side and once you have rolled it in a couple of time, fold in the edges of the rice paper. Be gentle but firm with rice paper, otherwise it might tear apart or be too loose. Roll it all the way to the end until the other edge of the rice paper folds over the roll. I couldn’t take a picture as I did this. I was apprehensive, since this was my first time. But there are many great videos on YouTube, where you can learn from expert vietnamese cooks. 🙂 I liked this one.
- Cut the rolls in half before serving and serve with spicy peanut sauce. Yum!
– Most peanut sauce recipes use hoisin sauce and store bought peanut butter, but I eliminated both of them and preferred to make something from scratch.
– Veggies that are normally used in these rolls include butter lettuce, mung sprouts and garlic chives. Authentic vietnamese rolls have a a few strands of fresh chive popping out right at the end of the roll. I would like to attempt that the next time I make these.