Monday, January 21, 2013

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

I was honored to join Bree and Brad for their tasting with the wedding caterers today (or one of the options, at least).  Being the classy folk that they are, French was the theme, so bistro-style butter and beef abounded.  It was rich and delicious.  If I ever figure out how to make that truffled porcini "cappuccino" cold soup it will go on this blog, no matter how much cream it calls for.

After two hours of being pampered I was stuffed and ready for a nap.  Good thing I really procrastinated on all that lesson planning over the long weekend.  

Simple, light, and distracting: Vietnamese Spring Rolls stuffed with Hot 'n Sweet Chili-Lime Chicken

It's pretty easy to find these spring roll wrappers, and with a little practice and organization they "roll" out of the kitchen pretty quickly.  
Main Ingredients (makes 10-12 spring rolls):
  • 24 rice paper wrappers 
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slice into thin strips
  • 1/2 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped (julienne them if you want, all tastes the same)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 4 large leaves of romaine lettuce, sliced into thick strips
  • fresh cilantro
Prepare and marinate the chicken while you slice and dice the rest of your ingredients.  It's a strong marinade and the chicken is sliced thin, so by the time everything else is prepped you can throw your chicken in a pan to cook.  Cook through and set aside to cool.

Hot 'n Sweet Chili-Lime Chicken Marinade:
  • 1-2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp ginger (freshly ground, if you can)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chili paste (sriracha or sambal)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice

Mix the cucumber dressing and soak the julienned cucumbers inside.  I'm sure this would work just as well if you just thinly sliced the cucumber.  Feel free to use a handy electric chopper to take care of the carrots.  You can get as fancy as you want for presentation sake, but I betcha it'll taste the same.

Cucumber Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (rice wine is deal, but white or red wine will work just fine)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

So all your ingredients are set.  Set up a nice little mise en place for yourself, which should include a few layers of paper towel laid out next to a bowl or dish of lukewarm water.  Soak one piece of rice paper at a time, for just about a minute.  Remove carefully from the water and place on the paper towel.  I like to double up my rice paper for each roll - its a bit more forgiving during construction.

Add a bit of each ingredient however you'd like.  I usually start with a strip of romaine for a little extra reinforcement for the roll.  Apply a burrito technique.  You're going to break some, so don't hyperventilate.  Its going to taste great.
Serve up with the remaining dressing from the cucumbers and some extra hot sauce.  

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