Keith tried Vietnamese summer rolls for the first time on a balmy evening in Chelsea. We have this joke between us. I will try just about any kind of food, but Keith is a little less adventurous. I have therefore created "levels of difficulty" when it comes to getting Keith to sample any kind of "ethnic" cuisine. We are moving slowly but surely, and I would say we are at level two. He has tasted (and is slowly developing a love for) my favorite, Korean food. I have dragged him to countless pan-Asian restaurants where he has reluctantly sampled countless unfamiliar dishes. Vietnamese was not too much of a stretch, and summer rolls were a great place to start. They are full of familiar ingredients-- carrots, cabbage, cucumbers, cilantro-- put together and flavored in a wonderful way that makes for a great appetizer on a hot summer day.
After sampling a few varieties of summer rolls, we decided it was time for Keith to try this himself (I'm not going to lie, I was really pushing for these). After a few trips to the Asian market and a bit of experimentation, we think we have finally crowned a winner. These light and healthy appetizers are packed with flavor, very easy to make, and taste like some of my favorite appetizers at our local Vietnamese restaurant. They really look pretty too!First, Keith marinated the carrots and cabbage. This gives the rolls their unmistakable flavor. It took several tries to learn how to handle the delicate rice paper wrappers, but my superman was up to the task. Once you get the hang of this, it is very easy to keep turning them out. This version is vegetarian (because we are in that kind of mood), but we did try some with shrimp that were also outstanding. Keith created a flavorful peanut sauce for dipping that really rounds out the dish. I am totally in love with this healthy appetizer. I love the crunch and the unexpected tangy flavor.So our food journey together continues. Life can't be all meat and potatoes, and based on this recipe, I think my plan is working. I do not know if we will ever make it to level 5 (my beloved Indian), but we are certainly making progress.
A light and vegetarian spring roll that is super easy to make
- 2 Sprigs cilantro
- 2 C shredded cabbage
- 2 Carrots ( julienne)
- 1 Cucumber ( julienne)
- 1 sprig Fresh Mint
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 8 Rice Paper wrappers
- ½ C rice Vinegar
- 1 TBSP sugar
- For the sauce:
- 1 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 TBSP rice Vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 TBSP Peanut Butter
- 1 dash sesame oil
- Start by combining the rice vinegar and sugar in a bowl.
- In separate bowls marinade the julienne carrots and the cabbage in mixture for 10-15 minutes.
- To assemble spring rolls:
- Lightly wet the rice paper one at a time until slightly pliable.
- On a clean surface place some cabbage, carrots, cucumbers and a little mint and cilantro.
- Roll rice paper up to form roll.
- Now wet a second rice paper and re-roll same wrap in second paper and set aside.
- Repeat until you have 4 spring rolls.
- To make the sauce simply mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and peanut butter until well blended.
- These spring rolls can be cut using a serrated knife and laid open side down and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- To serve dip spring rolls in sauce and enjoy