Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls

There is nothing I like better than making and eating fresh spring rolls.  They are tasty, they are healthy, they have delightful textures AND they are portable.  But what I really, really, absolutely LOVE (as in a twirl my dress and spin around kind of giddiness-love) is the peanut dipping sauce.  I could eat it by the bucketful.  To tell you the truth, the spring rolls for me are sort of a Peanut Sauce delivery system. I have been known to eat the peanut sauce on ice cream (try it, you will love it, I promise), with apples and pears, even bananas.  Sometimes, if I think nobody is watching, I will lick my plate of any residual peanut sauce (don’t judge me).  It is my “green eggs and ham”

Let’s start with the recipe for the sauce:

peanut sauce
Mix in ingredients into the oil and garlic/ginger saute.

 

 

Peanut Dipping Sauce

1 tbsp canola oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

½ inch piece of ginger grated

OR just one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste you’ve blended together

5 tbsp water or chicken broth—may add more as needed

5 tbsp hoisin sauce

½ cup peanut butter

1 tbsp Sirarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 tbsp Palm sugar or brown sugar (Palm sugar adds a wonderful depth of flavor that is not to be missed)

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in the hoisin sauce and water or broth and stir for a minute or two. Next add the peanut butter, Sriarcha or Sambal Oelek and Palm sugar and stir until well blended and sugar dissolves. Add additional water if needed. Sauce should be smooth but thick. Take off heat and top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai chili if desired or more Sambal Oelek.

To make this sauce Vegan or soy free:

1 Tbsp canola oil

2 cloves garlic

¼ inch piece of ginger grated

5 tbsp vegetable broth or stock

½ tsp salt

½ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp tamarind paste

1 tbsp Sriarcha sauce or Sambal Oelek

1 Tbsp Palm Sugar

3– 4 tbsp of water

Heat oil in a small pan and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until fragrant. Add in all the remaining ingredients except for the water. Stir until well blended and heated through. Add the water (more or less depending on consistency). Sauce should be slightly thick and smooth. Top with additional crushed peanuts and diced Thai Chillis if desired.

rice paper
Choose the size of rice paper you like (bigger is easier to work with)

 

Rice paper
Dip the rice paper into warm tap water and turn to get it wet
Glass noodles
soak the rice stick noodles in water to soften (10 minutes)
Veggies
Get all veggies ready to begin rolling

 

 

Shrimp
Slice shrimp into halves (they nestle nicely in the roll)

 

 

 

spring rolls
Place veggies 1/3 of the way into paper and tuck in

 

 

Vietnamese Spring roll
Tuck in the edges before the next revolution

 

Spring roll
Place shrimp cut side up and tucked along the edges

 

vietnamese spring rolls
The shrimp shows through the paper
spring rolls and sauce
Enjoy with the peanut sauce

 

spring rolls and sauce
Peanut sauce delivery system

 

Vietnamese spring roll

Spring Rolls

Rice spring roll paper (12 sheets)

Warm tap water (several cups in a bowl to soften rice paper)

Romaine lettuce, thinly sliced

Cabbage, shredded

1/3 package of thin rice vermicelli noodles, cooked

cucumbers, thinly sliced horizontally

1 Shredded carrot

1 cup bean sprouts

twelve pieces of long chives

handful of Cilantro

handful of fresh mint (peppermint variety – found in Asian markets)

Cooked shrimp, deveined and sliced in half

Or you can use Chinese style BBQ pork (Char Shu)

Or chicken

Or use only vegetables without any proteins

 

Thoroughly wash all the vegetables and prepare them as listed above. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles for 6 to 10 minutes in hot water then rinse them under cool tap water. I buy the pre cooked shrimp that’s already deveined and cleaned and then slice them in half (usually at Costco). I also buy all my produce at the Asian Market because they are a LOT cheaper.

There are a million brands of rice paper. Choose the cheapest one. They are pretty much the same.

Dip the paper in warm water, turning it in a circle as you dip and gently press in the middle to get the whole paper wet. Avoid sticking the whole paper in a bowl and letting it float around. It just needs to get wet – not soaking wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the sheet on a cutting board or plate in front of you. On the top third of the paper closest to you, place a small bundle of romaine lettuce and cabbage, next put the vermicelli noodles on top followed by the carrots, sprouts, cucumber, a few leaves of mint, one frond of chives and two small leaves of cilantro. Fold the paper closest to you over the vegetables and tuck tightly under. Once you’ve rolled one revolution, tuck the left and right side into the roll. There should be some paper still left in the front, place the shrimp cut side facing up (like inverted “u”) next to the roll and finish rolling up the spring roll. You should be able to see the Shrimp from the outside . Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve at room temperature. Avoid making ahead and refrigerating since the rice paper dries out or gets too soggy. If you must take it somewhere to eat/serve it, wrap each roll in plastic wrap so they do not stick to each other and serve within 2-3 hours.

 

It’s Chicken Satay time!

I am doing a shout out to my former student “Nate”. He mentioned several times in class how much he loves to grill and I promised him some Indonesian/Thai inspired food…. so here it is Nate!! Not only are these Chicken Satays very quick and easy to do, they are high in flavor and low in fat.  Perfect accompaniment for our summer workouts.  (I should mention that we’re almost done with our first week of P90x and Insanity and I’ve lost 1 1/2 pounds so far….13 1/2 to go!).

I should mention that I always prefer to use chicken thighs over chicken breast because they have a lot more flavor and they are a lot cheaper too.  You can buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs or you can easily de-bone the chicken thighs at home.  All you need is a sharp knife and the ability to cut along the edges of the bone and you’re done!!

The secret to this dish of course is the sauce.  I love how this sauce turns out.  I could eat it by the spoonful but then I’d have to work out some more.  Please do use the Sweet Soy Sauce instead of the regular soy sauce.  If you must use regular soy sauce then choose the low sodium kind and use only 1/8 cup otherwise your sauce will be very salty.  This is great as an appetizer or a main dish served with Coconut Fried Rice and a fresh crunchy salad.  We also ate other veggies dipped in the sauce along with our chicken!

Place all the ingredients for the sauce directly into the pan and heat over medium heat
Divide the sauce, one for dipping and the other for basting!
Place chicken skewers on grill and cook for 6-8 minutes turning over once.
Baste during the grilling process with the sauce
Serve with the reserved sauce
Chicken Satay with peanut sauce

Chicken Satay

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or you can grind up some peanuts) – I like chunky

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup sweet soy sauce

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

3 garlic cloves, minced

scallion, diced (for garnish)

In a saucepan place all ingredients except chicken and scallion.  Cook over medium heat until sauce is bubbly.  Take off heat and cool sauce.  Divide sauce into two parts.

Cut chicken into 1″ inch long strips and thread onto skewers.  If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them before hand so they don’t burn and fall off.  Spray chicken with non-stick cooking spray and place on hot grill (about 300-350 degrees) cook for 6-10 minutes covered,  turning once.  Baste with half of the sauce (make sure the dipping portion is never in contact with the raw chicken) during the grilling process and serve with remaining sauce garnished with sliced scallions.   The sauce is also fantastic for dipping carrots, cucumbers and other fresh veggies as well.