Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vietnamese spring rolls

IPoL is pleased to introduce my new favorite summer lunch: Vietnamese spring rolls. I've had them before from various markets in the area, but it never really occurred to me to make my own until I stumbled across the right kind of rice-paper wraps at the Asian grocery store.

Basically, these are just another variation on the endlessly adaptable culinary theme of "some protein and veg held together by a starch," aka, a sandwich. In this case, the protein in question is tofu, which was freshly made and pressed by Viet Tofu. (They also make their own silken tofu and soymilk, if you're interested, as well as deep-fried spicy cassava fritters, which are 10 different kinds of awesome.)

The first step was to cook the tofu a bit, which we did under the broiler with a light glaze of soy sauce:

The finished tofu was chopped into long matchsticks, the better to fit inside the wraps.

The rest of the ingredients included some Thai basil from our herb garden...

...rice vermicelli noodles, which we rehydrated in boiling water...


...and some carrots, coriander, and mint (also from the herb garden). The mise:

Once everything was assembled, it was time to roll. First, the rice paper wraps had to be soaked in warm water until they were translucent and pliable. This was actually quite fun. Immersing them in water made them soften up almost immediately, and when they were floating around, they felt a bit like jellyfish goo. (Note: I have no idea what jellyfish goo actually feels like. Just go with it.)

After soaking for about 30 seconds, the wrap was done, and I extracted it to the cutting board to start loading on the ingredients.

The trick to getting these guys to roll right is to pile everything in the bottom third of the wrap. This leaves plenty of room for rolling.

Once all of the ingredients were in, I folded in the sides, and then rolled it up like burrito. (Does that count as fusion cuisine?)

Done! They're best served cold and right away. Long-term storage involves wet paper towels to prevent the rice wraps from drying out and cracking. Short-term nibbling involves Thai sweet chili sauce. Yum!