After a long absence I think I’ve finally figured out what this blog should be about. Yes, I cook seasonally, but why? Because I shop first and plan the menu later. I look for sales, I look for what’s fresh, and I keep the shelves stocked with staples. My staples may not be your staples (i.e.: fish sauce, lime juice, cumin, chiles in all forms, rice paper, rice noodles, etc.) but they leave me room to experiment and go. I love grocery shopping, some girls go for shoes, I groove on bundles of greens, bright berries, and hmm what can I do with that?
A few weeks ago when asparagus was everywhere at the farmers market we ate asparagus in or with everything. There’s nothing better than asparagus tossed with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then grilled. But that’s barely a recipe. So…
One of my favorite warm weather meals are Vietnamese style salad rolls, which manage to be refreshing, healthy, and filling all at the same time. And if you happen to have an Asian market near by (we’ve got Anzen just across the river) rice noodles and rice paper will only put you back a couple of dollars. While my rolling technique still leaves something to be desired (finding the happy medium between rolling tightly enough to keep everything together and not tearing the wrapper takes practice), I love that I can stuff just about anything in those wrappers.
Asparagus and Shrimp Vietnamese Style Salad Rolls
12 Vietnamese “Spring Rolls Skin” (they come in various sizes, for the asparagus I used the larger size)
¼ package rice noodles soaked for 3-5 minutes in boiling water until tender, drained, and tossed a few table spoons of Nouc cham (Tangy lime dipping sauce— you can find a recipe here).
24 cleaned shrimp, marinated in lime juice, garlic, ginger, cilantro, olive oil and hot chili flakes and then sautéed until just done, cooled and cut lengthwise. (Pork, chicken, and beef work equally well)
One bundle clean blanched asparagus, cut into 3-4 inch pieces
Mint, basil, and cilantro, minced. (If you’re feeling fancy reserve a few whole leaves of mint to place between the shrimp and the wrapper).
Bean sprouts (like everything else these are optional, I like the crunch)
Juilliened vegetables. ( I used carrots this time for color but cucumbers, sweet red peppers, shredded lettuce and scallions are also great).
With all your ingredients prepped and ready to go and a work surface cleared for assembly moisten two or three rice paper wrappers ( I run them under the faucet but some people dip them in a bowl of warm water and others still use a pastry brush) and set them out on a clean cloth. You can start piling on your ingredients immediately but make sure that the wrappers are soft and pliable before you begin to wrap. I usually start with a few whole sprigs of mint or cilantro and then lay out the shrimp pretty pink side down, piling the remaining ingredients on top. As I mentioned before my wrapping technique leaves something to be desired so if you want more detailed instructions you cant try here or here or just wing it based on the pictures and any burrito assembly experience you might have.
After the rolls are assembled cut in half for easier eating. Serve with one or more dipping sauces such as Nuoc cham, peanut sauce, or Thai sweet chili sauce.