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.

 

 

 

Thai-inspired Barbecue Marinade for Chicken or Shrimp

barbecued chicken

My cousin’s lovely wife, Jeab, introduced me to condiments from her native Thailand, such as sweet-salty oyster sauce and pungent fish sauce. These along with the coconut milk and lemongrass can be found in Asian grocery stores and some large supermarkets. I love fooling around and combining these ingredients with others in my kitchen and herb garden to invent marinades. Frozen garlic and ginger can be found at Trader Joe’s and Berkeley Bowl.

The spices, pepper, onion, lime and herbs add a tangy spiciness to the blandness of the coconut milk. My family likes their food spicy, but feel free to cut down on the chili according to your tastes. If you are on a salt-restricted diet, cut the amount of salt, fish sauce and oyster sauce.

marinade ingredients

Ingredients: (Enough marinade for about 6 pieces of chicken and 2 dozen shrimp.)

1/2 of a 14 oz. can coconut milk (1 cup) (I use low-fat)

1 Tb oyster sauce (can substitute 1 tsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt)

2 Tb fish sauce

2 Tb chili oil

2 Tb sesame oil

1/2 tsp salt

juice of 2 limes

3 garlic cloves, minced or 3 cubes frozen minced garlic

2 cubes frozen minced ginger or 2 tsp. fresh minced ginger, or 1 tsp. ground ginger

1 Tb yellow curry powder

¼ cup coarsely chopped cilantro (you can include stems)

¼ cup coarsely chopped basil leaves

1 onion, chopped

1 chopped jalapeño pepper

1 chopped red chili pepper

Whisk liquids, curry powder, garlic and ginger in a large bowl.

liquid ingredients for marinade

Chop onion and peppers. This is the time to release your emotions and have a good cry!

Remove outer leaves of lemongrass until you reach the tender inner ones. Trim bulb and upper end of stalk where leaves are dry. Use a molcajete (or regular mortar and pestle) or a rolling-pin on the cutting board to crush the slices until softened. The citrus scent will be released. (If you can’t find lemongrass, it’s OK, you can still make the recipe without it!) Slice into 1 inch slices.

chopped lemongrass

Chop herbs, add to marinade.

Pound chicken breasts and remove excess fat. Make several slits in each breast to enable it to absorb the marinade.

scored chicken breasts

Cut each breast in half and add to marinade, coating each piece well. Marinate chicken breasts for several hours, the longer the better.

marinade

Grill on medium flame.

chicken and shrimp on the grill

If it’s raining, you can slice the breasts and cook them in the marinade, like curried chicken.

Put the shrimp in You can use leftover chicken instead of shrimp in the Shrimp-Mango Salad.

Sliced chicken also pairs well with cucumber and  snap peas. Parboil the snap peas for about 3 minutes, until they turn bright green. Cool under running water, then immerse in ice water to stop cooking. Remove stems and slice in half. Mix chicken and peas with sliced cucumber and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Chicken served with snap peas and cucumber

You can also add the leftover marinade to stir fry vegetables, such as broccoli and choy sum or baby bok choy, and mushrooms. Be careful that you only add the tender lemongrass, not the outer inedible parts!

stir fry veggies with bbq shrimp and chicken