Egg Foo Young

This is a easy way to add vegetables to your diet. It is flexible in that you can add whatever veggies are hanging in your fridge that you feel are appropriate. Mainly you need green onions (scallions) and bean sprouts. I added a couple slices of smoked turkey for extra flavor and protein, but you can add other meat or substitute tofu if you prefer. I used 1 teaspoon of oil, but if you like you can add a bit more.

Ingredients: Serves 2

Canola oil nonstick spray

1 tsp canola oil or vegetable oil

3 scallions

1 large or 2 medium stalks celery

1 peeled carrot

3 cups bean sprouts

Other vegetables you have on hand, including

1/4 cup red bell pepper

3 medium mushrooms

4 stalks asparagus tips

1/2 cup snap peas

1/3 cup frozen peas

1 cup fresh spinach

2 slices of smoked turkey or meat of your choice, if desired

6 large eggs

1 TB soy sauce, more to taste

Directions

Slice vegetables thinly, starting with scallions, carrot and celery. Set the green tops of the scallions aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok and spray with Canola oil nonstick spray. Add 1 tsp canola or vegetable oil. Sauté the hard vegetables.

Thinly slice the red pepper, asparagus, snap peas and mushrooms, and add them to the sauté.

When vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, add desired meat, spinach and frozen peas, then add bean sprouts and stir until they soften.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with 1 Tb soy sauce and pour evenly over the vegetables.

As eggs cook, gently lift them over at the edges of the pan so that they cook evenly. Once they are cooked to your liking, plate and garnish with chopped scallion greens.

Chicken Fried Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice aka riced cauliflower is all the rage now, so in my bid to be trendy I created this recipe. It’s not quite rice, but it’s a decent substitute for those of us watching our carbs and waistlines. I used canola oil nonstick spray to fry the ingredients on a nonstick pan, and it worked surprisingly well.

The vegetables are flexible. I used what I had on hand in the fridge.

Ingredients (serves 3)

1 small head or 1/2 large head cauliflower

1 large carrot

Canola oil cooking spray

1 large egg

3 celery stalks

1 small onion

1 large wedge of cabbage

4 scallions

1/2 breast of roast chicken

1 Tb soy sauce to taste

Directions:

Cut a raw cauliflower into pieces small enough to feed into a food processor. I used the stems as well as the florets. Use the grater tool and you will have riced cauliflower. You could grate large chunks of the cauliflower by hand if you don’t have a food processor. Place the riced cauliflower between some paper towels to dry.

Peel and grate the carrot and set aside.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and spray it with canola oil spray. Fry the egg on one side and flip it to fry on the other side. Transfer to a cutting board and roll it up, cut it lengthwise, then into strips crosswise. Set aside.

Spray the pan again. Chop onion and celery and fry until onion softens and begins to brown. Add the cauliflower rice. Thinly slice the cabbage and stir it in. Chop the white parts of the scallions and stir them in. Add the grated carrots. Let the vegetables cook until they are soft and browned.

Chop the chicken and add it to the pan. Stir until chicken is heated. Stir in the sliced eggs and soy sauce. Chop the green parts of the scallions to garnish each serving.

Cold Soba Salad

Soba are Japanese buckwheat noodles that are delicious in a sauce made with Japanese condiments. I mix in a variety of salad veggies, and sprinkle with peanuts for a balanced vegan meal. I didn’t have any edamame on hand for the pictures, but they would make an excellent protein addition.

Soba noodles can be either made completely of buckwheat (therefore gluten free) or a combination of wheat, buckwheat and yam powder, like the package here. The vermicelli noodles are bound in mini packets by paper strips, making them easy to measure for a meal.

Ingredients: Serves 3 as a main meal

2 mini packets soba noodles

Vegetables: I used a rainbow of veggies that I had in my fridge, so feel free to improvise.

2 stalks broccoli

2 large radishes

1 persian cucumber

1 large carrot

1/2 red bell pepper

4 scallions, green parts only

1/2 cup cilantro leaves

1 cup shredded red cabbage

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

Sauce:

1 tsp mirin

1 tsp rice vinegar

1 Tb soy sauce

1 Tb sesame oil

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp Sriracha (add more if you like more heat)

1/2 tsp finely grated ginger

1 tsp miso

1 Tb sesame seeds

salt to taste

Garnish:

2 Tb Nori Kome Furakaki

1 cup roasted salted peanuts

Directions:

Bring 3 quarts of water to boil, then add soba noodles. Lower heat to medium and cook according to package directions. My package only had directions in Japanese, which unfortunately I don’t read, so I found out 7 minutes made a noodle that was 2 minutes soft this side of al dente. Drain the noodles in the salad spinner basket and run for a minute under cold water. Fill the bowl of a salad spinner with ice water, then dunk the basket in the ice water and move the noodles around with your hands to eliminate the excess starch. Let them sit until they are cool, then remove the basket from the ice water and let it drain.

While water is heating and noodles are cooking, separate broccoli tops into tiny florets. Bring 2 cups of water in medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add shelled edamame and bring back to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Place broccoli florets in a steamer basket above the boiling water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes and broccoli is bright green.

While it is cooking, fill a large bowl with an ice bath. Remove the steamer basket full of florets basket and empty into the ice bath. Drain the edamame and put in the ice bath along with the florets. Leave them there while you prepare the other ingredients.

Peel the carrots and cut off the ends. Use a knife to peel the tough skin from the broccoli stalks. I used a box grater to grate them and the radishes.

Finely chop the green parts of the scallions, julienne the red pepper and cucumber, and separate the cilantro leaves. Thinly slice the cabbage with a large knife or mandoline.

Combine sauce liquids, ginger, miso, and sesame seeds, then mix the noodles until they are well coated. Add the Furakaki and prepared vegetables, tossing well. Add salt to taste

Just before serving, mix in the peanuts.

Sesame Miso Salad Dressing

sesame miso dressing in jar

Perfect for dressing your salad at your next Japanese meal, this flavorful dressing combines miso, sesame oil, freshly grated ginger and garlic, Mirin seasoning sake, seasoned rice vinegar, and honey to a base of neutral vegetable oil. I just bought a big bottle of rice bran oil to fry my tempura in, and it worked nicely in the dressing.

Ingredients: Makes 1/2 cup dressingingredients for sesame miso dressing

1/4 cup rice bran oil, or other neutral vegetable oil or canola oil

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 Tb water

1 Tb seasoned rice vinegar

1 Tb Mirin seasoning sake

2 tsp honey

1 Tb miso

1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger root (peeled)

1 small garlic clove, finely grated (1/4 tsp)

1 tsp sesame seeds to sprinkle on salad

Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds in blender and run on high until dressing is emulsified. Pour on green salad, then sprinkle sesame seeds or furikaki on salad.

Store leftovers in a jar in the refrigerator.

Chinese-style Braised Eggplant with fresh Basil

serving new

Braised eggplant is one of my favorite Chinese dishes. Our favorite restaurant, King Yen in Berkeley, serves it fragrant with fresh basil. I picked up the veggies from the farmer’s market: long Asian eggplants, mushrooms, with fresh basil, red bell peppers and green onions (scallions) for color.

I added a chicken breast for more protein. If you have leftover roasted breast you can chop it in bite sized pieces and add it in with the basil.

I make it vegetarian/vegan by swapping the chicken for tofu. and use vegetable broth. I also use both chicken and tofu. I add flavor to the tofu by salting it and frying it in the same oil I used for frying the onions, garlic and ginger. 

I only add a teaspoon of Sriracha because I can’t handle much heat, but feel free to amp it up, adding it at the end to taste.

This is even better the next day, when the basil has a chance to permeate the dish.

This is a time consuming dish. Be sure to do all the chopping and sauces prep before you start to cook so you’re not all stressed out while you’re cooking!

Serves 4

ingredients new pix.jpg

Ingredients

3 1/2 Tb canola oil for frying (2 Tb if not using tofu)

1 Chicken breast, about 3/4 pound (optional)

1 package extra firm tofu. Salt for sprinkling on tofu

1 pound Chinese eggplants (3 long skinny ones)

8 medium mushrooms (crimini or white)

6 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional)

1 medium or 2 small red or yellow bell peppers

2″ piece of fresh ginger to make 1 Tb grated ginger

5 large cloves of garlic to make 1 Tb thinly sliced garlic

2 green onions (scallions). You can mince a slice of regular yellow onion to make 2 Tb if you don’t have green onions.

1/2 bunch fresh Thai or regular basil to make 1 1/2 cups basil leaves

1 can water chestnuts

Sauce:

sauces

3/4 cup chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup) or vegetable broth or soaking liquid from dried shiitakes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons hoisin sauce

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (add more for more heat)

Thickener:

4 teaspoons (1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) water or reserved soaking liquid from dried mushrooms.

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Prep:

Make brown rice

Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup warm water

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tofu-on-towel.jpg

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tofu-in-towel.jpg

If using tofu, cut the block into 3 or 4 slices. Pat dry with a paper towel and wrap in a clean dishtowel. Press between two cutting boards and place a heavy frying pan on top for 15 minutes while you prepare the sauce. Unwrap and slice crosswise into 1/2 inch slices and sprinkle both sides with salt.

ginger n garlicPeel and grate ginger to make 1 Tablespoon

Peel and thinly slice garlic to make 1 Tablespoon

Trim woody ends from mushroom stems, then quarter.

red bell pepper and scallions

Slice red peppers into strips

Slice green onions crosswise. Mince the green parts and reserve for garnish.

cut eggplant

Chop eggplants at angles into uneven bite-sized pieces. This will help prevent them from sticking to the pan.

Rinse water chestnuts and chop them into halves

Chop chicken breast into bite-sized pieces, if using

Pull leaves off of basil stems to make 1 1/2 cups of leaves

Directions:

chicken and peppers and scallions

Heat wok on high and add oil (2 Tb if adding chicken, 1 1/2 Tb if not.) Stir-fry chicken a few minutes to sear it, then toss with onions and red bell peppers. Mix in ginger and garlic with metal spatula to incorporate browned bits of chicken. 

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If you are making this vegan, just stir fry the pepper and onion mix 

If adding tofu: remove vegetables (and chicken if using) to a bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving as much oil behind as possible. Add 1 Tb of oil and add 1/2 the tofu at a time and fry on each side until browned. Remove and set on paper towels to drain, then add anther Tb of oil and fry the remaining tofu and drain.

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beginning to cook

Slice the reconstituted dried mushrooms and discard the stems. Reserve 4 teaspoons of the soaking liquid for the thickener. If making vegan, use soaking liquid in the sauce instead of chicken broth.

Add the onion mix back into the pan along with the rest of the chopped vegetables and water chestnuts. Stir-fry a few minutes over high heat.

Pour in the sauce and toss the vegetables to coat.  Add the fried tofu and gently toss to coat it. Lower heat and cover wok. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure that vegetables are submerged.

cooking with basilStir in the basil leaves and continue simmering covered for another 3 minutes until eggplant is thoroughly cooked and tender.

finished cooking

Mix the reserved mushroom soaking liquid with the cornstarch. Stir in the thickener and bring sauce to a boil until it thickens

Serve over brown rice or on its own. Garnish with a few basil leaves and green onions.

Sticky Rice with Mango

sticky rice n mango in dish
This is one of my family’s favorite desserts. It’s actually quite easy to make.Making the sticky rice is the most time-consuming part. You can also just purchase 2 cups of sticky rice from a Lao or Thai restaurant and go from there!
Serves 5
1 cup sticky rice (glutinous rice)
10.5 oz can coconut water (with pulp is nice).
13.6 oz can coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar to taste
A few shakes salt
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut                                                                                                                                             2 Manila mangoes

Isn't this a pretty package!

Isn’t this a pretty package!

Rice: You can get sweet glutinous rice from Asian grocery stores. (Despite the name, it does not have gluten.) Rinse the rice several times, soaking in water for a few minutes, then draining in fine mesh sieve. Soak it in water for 7 hours or overnight. You can soak it in coconut water if you want a bit more coconut flavor.

My friend Jenny Chan uses a traditional Lao rice steamer basket to make her sticky rice. Since I don’t have one, I used my rice cooker.  Cook the mixture in a steamer basket in a rice cooker until done. If the steamer’s holes are too big for the rice, place a piece of cheesecloth over them first.

Coconut Milk: Heat 1 can coconut milk (lite coconut milk is basically watered down regular milk and has less calories; regular is much richer). If it has separated and you can’t shake it together in the can, you can either whisk it well or put it in the blender first. Stir in sugar, salt, shredded coconut, and then two cups cooked rice. Cook a few minutes until thick and pudding-like.
Manila mangoes

Peel mangoes with a vegetable peeler. I think that Manila mangoes are sweeter and easier to use. Cut into pieces.
Scoop rice mixture in serving dish and cover with mango slices.

This is best served warm. If you leave leftovers in the fridge, it will harden. It will still be good, but you can heat it in some sweetened coconut milk if you like a softer dessert.

Tom Kha Gai ต้มข่าไก่ Thai Coconut Soup with Mushrooms

soup

This creamy coconut milk soup, fragrant with lime, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cilantro and galangal, pungent fish sauce and a bit of chili heat, is one of my favorite Thai foods.
I am fortunate to live within shopping distance of Monterey Market, Berkeley Bowl and several Asian markets that carry the authentic ingredients. If you can’t find galangal you can substitute its relative, ginger.

Serves 3 large bowlfuls

ingredients

Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth (I use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup)
2 inches galangal, sliced thin
2 stalks of lemongrass
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 Thai bird chili (bright red)
1 large Roma tomato

2 cups white mushrooms, sliced

1 scallion, sliced

2 Tb fish sauce (I use Red Boat)
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup cilantro leaves

5 large basil leaves, julienned

14-oz can of coconut milk (low fat works fine, regular makes a rich soup)
½ raw chicken breast, thinly sliced, OR sliced leftover roasted chicken breast

OR 1/2 pound raw shrimp. Use medium shrimp or chop large shrimp into bite-sized pieces

½ teaspoon salt (to taste)

Instructions

tomato

Bring broth to a boil. Dip tomato in the boiling broth for a minute, and then cool.

While broth is heating, trim ends from galangal and slice thinly.

lemongrass         smashing lemongrasss

Remove a couple of inches from the root end of the lemongrass and the dry outer leaves. Slice the main stalk diagonally into 3 inch pieces, then smash the lemongrass with the blunt side of the knife.

Smash the galangal slices with a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or other heavy object to release their fragrance. Add these to the boiling stock along with torn kaffir lime leaves,  julienned chili, and salt.

add shrimp shells to brothDefrost frozen shrimp by placing it in a container in the fridge the night before. If you are using it straight from the freezer, defrost in a colander under cool running water for about 8 minutes.) Shell the shrimp and add the shells to the broth for extra flavor. Put shelled shrimp in a container in the refrigerator.

Simmer the broth and seasonings for 30 minutes. You can make this part ahead of time and refrigerate.

straining flavoringsStrain the broth into a bowl or another pot and discard the shrimp shells, lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and chili pods. Heat the strained broth to boiling.

Peel the skin off the cooled tomato, then slice tomato thickly and stir into the broth along with the mushrooms and white parts of the scallions. Next, add the raw chicken (if using) or shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, stir in coconut milk and heat for 5 minutes.

When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in lime juice and fish sauce. If using cooked chicken, add it at this time.  Pour soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, basil, and sliced green parts of scallion.

shrimp soup

Chicken and Bell Peppers with Black Bean Garlic Sauce

???????????????????????????????I made this dish for Chinese New Year. The red and green bell peppers made it so pretty.  I used Lee Kum Kee brand black bean garlic sauce which is made from soy sauce, fermented black beans, garlic, water, sugar and salt. It gave a recipe on the jar for this dish, which I dressed up with scallions and Serrano chili.

???????????????????????????????Serves 4

1 Tb canola oil

3 half-breasts chicken (1 ½ breasts)

1 large red bell pepper

1 large red green bell pepper

1 Serrano chili pepper

½ bunch scallions (green onions)

3 Tb black bean garlic sauce

½ tsp sugar

soy sauce to taste

Mince chicken into bite-sized pieces. Remove seeds and ribs from peppers. Slice bells julienne-style into thin pieces, and then slice into 1inch lengths. Mince Serrano finely. Discard roots from scallions, and then slice into small pieces.

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Heat oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan. Add chicken, peppers, garlic sauce and sugar. Stir constantly for five minutes. Add scallions and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Add soy sauce to taste. Serve over brown jasmine rice.

Teriyaki Chicken and Salmon

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I made my own teriyaki sauce after noticing that the bottled sauce generally has sugar or corn syrup as the #1 ingredient. This simple to make sauce has a little bit of brown sugar, but gets its flavor from the ginger, garlic and Mirin cooking sake (SAH- kay).

ingredientsCombine in a small saucepan:

1 Tb corn starch

1 Tb tap water

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup Mirin

3 Tb brown sugar

1/4 tsp ginger powder

4 cloves garlic, smashed in a molcajete or mortar and pestle, and finely minced to make 1 Tb

2 inch piece of ginger, finely minced to make 1 TB

Directions:

Whisk cornstarch and water together, then whisk in soy sauce, Mirin, ginger powder and brown sugar. Add fresh garlic and ginger. Heat to boiling, whisking constantly, then simmer for a few minutes until thick.

For chicken teriyaki: I’ve made this in the frying pan and barbecued, depending on the weather.

Pan cooked teriyaki:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is pan-cooked-chicken-teriyaki.jpg

Slice chicken breast and slice one onion. Heat pan with 1 Tb of canola oil.  Add onions and chicken and teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes until onions are soft and chicken is tender. Serve with rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

chicken teriyaki over rice6 boneless, skinless breasts.

Cut off excess fat. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Place in on a large plate. Pour canola oil over breasts and spread it over both sides with your hands. Place breasts on hot grill and cook for approximately 10 minutes on each side until done. Brush teriyaki sauce on one side of chicken and put that side down on the grill. Reduce flame to low. Cook for 5 minutes. Brush other side of chicken with teriyaki, flip chicken to that side, and cook on low for another 5 minutes. Plate the chicken and pour a bit more sauce over it.

salmon teriyakiSalmon Teriyaki

Use 3 salmon steaks or 1 1/2 lb  filet:

Marinade salmon in 1 cup Mirin for 15 minutes

Place on hot grill. Cook for 2-4 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon piece. Turn to other side and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Brush teriyaki sauce on one side of salmon, turn down flame, and cook for one minute, repeating for the other side.

Plate, then pour a bit more sauce over salmon.

Summer Rolls Gỏi Cuốn

 

Now that summer is officially here and we finally had a nice hot summer’s day, it’s time to make Vietamese style Summer Rolls. They are sometimes called Spring Rolls, although the Spring Rolls are often fried. Summer rolls are made with fresh, raw vegetables, with or without boiled shrimp. Gỏi Cuốn translates literally as salad rolls, which is pretty much what they are: a shrimp salad in a roll. I’ve always loved these for their burst of flavor from the fresh herbs inside heightened by the sweet spiciness of Hoisin (WHO-zjen) sauce and sweet chili sauce.

Cindy with shrimp rollMany thanks to chefs Cindy Hay (pictured above), Wyn Ha and Jenny Inpraseuth; my Southeast Asian colleagues who cheerfully and patiently taught me to make these.

Ingredients:

Asian ingredients are available at most Asian markets and Berkeley Bowl

You can make these Vegetarian/ Vegan with just salad ingredients or add fried tofu. 

Shrimp:

DSC00905About 2 cups of medium shrimp. If you buy shrimp in their shells, they make a lovely broth.

3 cups water

1 slice of fresh ginger

3 cloves garlic (use two when making tofu rolls)

1 tsp salt

Firm Tofu:

A slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container

Peanut-Hoisin dipping Sauce

Cindy told me that the sauce needs to have sweet, sour and salty flavors:

1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth. If making vegetarian, boil water with sliced garlic and ginger and 1/4 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons bottled Hoisin sauce (tương ăn phở)

2 Tb plus 1 tsp salted peanut butter (either smooth or crunchy)

1/2 cup full fat coconut milk

1/4 tsp Siracha sauce or chili garlic paste (add more if you like it spicier)

juice from 1/2 lime

1 Tb chopped peanuts

Wrap:

1 package rice paper rounds (bánh tráng)

1 round cake pan or pie pan with warm water

Filling:

You can vary the salad ingredients, but always include mint, cilantro and basil leaves and rice noodles.

Rice vermicelli noodles (rice sticks)  size medium Bún Giang Tây.

1/3 cup cilantro leaves

1/3 cup mint leaves

1/3 cup Thai basil (you can substitute regular basil if you can’t find the more aromatic Thai basil)

4 – 6 green leaf leaves lettuce. Use the upper part of the leaves.

1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and cut in thirds

1 large peeled carrot

2 Persian cucumbers (no need to peel) or 1 peeled pickling cucumber

1/4 peeled small jicama

1/4 red bell pepper

about 6 smap peas, julieened 

6 chives, chopped in thirds or 1 scallion, green parts only, sliced thinly and chopped 4 inches long.

You can make the shrimp and Hoisin dipping sauce ahead of time.

Shrimp filling:

Defrost shrimp overnight, or in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. While shrimp is defrosting, fill a small pot with 2 cups water and add 1 tsp of salt, ginger and garlic, and bring to a boil. Bring shrimp to boil, then boil over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp in a sieve over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Cool shrimp until you are able to handle them. Peel the shrimp and cut in half crosswise (so that each half has the shrimp shape).

Pour the liquid back into the pot. Return the shells, garlic and ginger into the reserved liquid. Boil uncovered for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Pour over a sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Tofu filling:

tofu rolls and peanut sauce

Use firm or extra firm tofu. Cut about a slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container. Wrap it in a clean dish towel.

tofu-dishtowel-1

Place it on a cutting board, then place another cutting board on top. Weigh the top board down with a heavy frying pan with several bags of rice inside.

weighing tofu

After about 10 minutes, remove the tofu and unwrap it. Cut it into slabs, then halve them crosswise.

Heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a small frying pan and fry tofu. Use tongs to flip them. 

frying tofu

Let fried tofu drain on paper towels. Paint on one side with the peanut sauce:

painting tofu

Hoisin peanut dipping sauce:

peanut sauce

Stir 1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth with Hoisin sauce, coconut milk, peanut butter, and siracha in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Stir in lime juice. Pour into a ramiken or small serving bowl. Top with crushed peanuts.

If making vegetarian rolls, use water boiled for 15 minutes with 1/4 tsp salt, a slice of ginger and 2 cloves garlic instead of shrimp broth.

Prepare the noodles:

Boil 12 cups water in a a saucepan. Use about 31/2 oz  rice vermicelli noodles, also called rice sticks Bún Giang Tây (about 1/4 of a 14 oz package). Be sure they are size medium, not the very thin vermicelli.

rice sticks bun giang tay

Cook the noodles, uncovered, for 5 minutes in boiling water, stirring occasionally.

DSC00596Cool them by rinsing them in a sieve under cold water for 2 minutes. Stir and separate the noodles with a fork or chopstick so that they don’t clump up. Let them drain over a bowl.

Salad Filling:

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I use a special Asian vegetable shaver with a zigzag blade called a Kiwi Pro Slice Peeler to shave thin slices of carrots, cucumber and jicama. Rotate the vegetable as you shave it. Discard (or snack on) the cucumber core that has the seeds.

DSC00894Cut the vegetables very thin and small, Cut the bean sprouts in thirds so they don’t poke through the thin rice wrapper.

Assembly:

3 ladies rice paperSummer rolls are not too hard to make, but the trick is in rolling the sticky rice paper. It comes in a hard, almost plastic-like wafer.

I couldn’t believe it was the same thing as the soft wrapper. Magically it transforms when dipped in warm water. It softens and becomes thinner and pliable. If you dip it flat, it wants to curl up.

The trick is to hold it by the edges and rotate it through the water, then give it a quick dip in the water to wet the middle.  The whole process should take about 5 seconds. If it stays too long in the water it will become too thin and tear easily, and stick to itself. If it’s too stiff the wrapper will be too chewy. It will soften on the plate as you add the veggies so that it will be thin and flexible.dipping rice paper

Place the rice paper on a damp plate. It will soften within seconds.DSC00601Put a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon of noodles first to add a cushion for the vegetables.

DSC00625Then add a few vegetables, and a few mint, basil and cilantro leaves. Avoid over-stuffing the roll. I got excited by all the wonderful ingredients and wanted to add it all in as much as possible. My rolls became bulky and torn. Moderation in all things I remind myself.

rollingRoll wrapper halfway, and then fold left and right sides over the filling. Lay 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, with a few basil, cilantro and mint leaves along the edge of the cylinder.

If using tofu, place three pieces, sauce side down with the herbs

Finish rolling up the summer roll. Cut it in half crosswise to look prettier.

shirmp on roll

Dip your summer roll in Hoisin Peanut Sauce or sweet chili sauce.