Fresh and Easy Spring Rolls

asian spring roll veggie
Where did Spring go? I have no idea what happened to the last few months, but all of a sudden, here we are. And this here and now is HOT. Weeks like this make me endlessly thankful for air conditioning. And even though we are enjoying the incredible luxury of central air while our neighbors sweat, I still have no desire to turn on the oven. There is nothing worse than a hot steamy kitchen on a hot steamy day.

So we’ve been eating a lot of spring rolls. This is cooking without cooking, and the results are flavorful, light and fresh – my kind of summer food. And like all my favorite recipes, there is really no recipe here. There is a technique, for sure. But as for the ingredients, well, that’s up to you.

You can pretty much stuff these light little rolls with just about anything that’s in your fridge. The fillings below are merely a suggestion, but I’ve used everything from shredded cooked chicken to pea shoots to fried tofu to Fuji apples. It pretty much all works. In terms of noodles, rice noodles are probably most traditional, and they work well. But I happened to have a box of angel hair pasta in my pantry so that’s what I used yesterday and they were lovely. I’ve also used seaweed noodles and soba noodles. They all are just fine – or you can feel free to leave out the noodles all together.

Be patient with yourself when working with the rice paper wrappers. Try not to overstuff the rolls, and you’ll get the hang of it. And have fun!

thai spring rolls
Fresh Spring Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Makes 25 rolls

2 cups cooked angel hair pasta
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup chopped lettuce
1 cup sliced snow peas, cut in long thin strips
1 cup sliced bell pepper, cut in long thin strips
1 cup sliced mango, cut in long thin strips
1/4 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
25 dry rice paper spring roll wrappers (the package will contain many more!)
warm water
2/3 cup bottled sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce

Toss the pasta with the oil. Arrange the veggies, mango and herbs on a cutting board so that they are easily accessible. Fill a shallow dish, such as a pie plate, with warm water. Working with just one wrapper at a time, take one rice paper wrapper and soak it in the water until it softens, about 10 seconds. Once it is soft, remove the wrapper from the water and lay it on a flat surface. It may wrinkle a bit, and that’s fine. Place a small bit of pasta, lettuce, snow pea, pepper, mango, scallion, and basil in the center of the wrapper. Fold in the ends and then roll the wrapper closed to seal. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Meanwhile, to make the dipping sauce just wisk the chili sauce with the soy sauce. Serve the sauce with the spring rolls. These are best served right away but if you cover them well, they will keep a few hours in the fridge before the wrappers start to get a bit chewy.

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Published in: on June 24, 2013 at 5:48 pm  Comments (7)  
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Miso Pork Chops

miso marinated pork chops

You know what’s wrong with pork chops?  Well, for most people, absolutely nothing.  They are juicy, tasty, and quick to cook.  What could be wrong? 

Here’s what’s wrong: they are ugly. You’ve probably never noticed, but pork chops aren’t the most photogenic subjects.  So I’m attempting to distract you with some beautifully bright green veggies – look at the shiny emerald objects! Is it working? Probably not.  And that’s fine, because ugly or not, these pork chops are fantastic. 

These quick and flavorful pork chops are a perfect weeknight dinner, but they are exciting enough to serve to company, and also make for fantastic leftovers.  Reheated, sliced and tossed with some rice and steamed veggies, they may be even be better the next day. Of course, they are awfully tasty straight from the oven, served alongside some sauteed sesame-sprinkled green beans.

If you haven’t use it before, don’t let miso paste scare you.  It is lovely, salty, earthy, and intense – not to mention healthy! Miso is fermented soybeans (sometimes with rice or barley as well), and generally sold as a paste.  There are many varieties of miso, but I’ve found white and red miso paste are most common in my local grocery stores. In general, the deeper the color, the more intense the flavor of the miso paste.  I threw together this recipe to use up the remnants of a tub of miso paste, and have used up another tub of miso paste making it again and again. But if you find yourself with some extra miso and need some inspiration, check out this recipe for saucy soba noodles with ground pork: Pork Noodles

Japanese miso pork chop

Miso Pork Chops

Serves 4

3 tablespoons red miso paste

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons fish sauce

2 teaspoons sriracha (chili sauce)

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

4  boneless center cut pork chops (each about 1 inch thick)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Wisk together the miso paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha, ginger, garlic, and 1 tablespoon of oil.  Arrange the pork chops in a shallow dish and drizzle with the marinade, turning to coat both sides.  Cover and  marinate for 20-30 minutes. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with the remaining oil. Arrange the pork chops on the baking sheet (they should be well coated with marinade; discard any excess marinade) and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook, but do cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.  Serve right away.

Published in: on December 4, 2011 at 8:34 pm  Comments (13)  
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