Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Tofu Spring Rolls
Another hot-weather recipe, as promised! These rolls are so delicious that I often forget how labour intensive they can be. Like those ladies who say you forget how painful giving birth is after it's all over and you have your lovely child in your arms (though I'm told by friends who have actually given birth that this whole "forgetting the pain" thing is a myth). When I hold these lovely spring rolls in my arms I forget about the number of times I accidently dropped the rice paper on the floor, or burned my fingers because they were just out of the water, or swore like a sailor when yet another roll's innards split through its wrapping. I forget how long they take to make when you are hungry already, and how many dishes and kitchen implements end up dirty at the end of it all. Because they are THAT DELICIOUS!
I got this contraption that was supposed to cut down on some of the work involved with the spring rolls, namely the part where I'd cook each wrapper one at a time in a shallow saucepan of boiling water. These plastic plates are the same size as the rice paper wrappers and they are made out of a thick mesh that allows water to get through. You stack them all up with rice paper wrappers in between each one and then you put them all in the water at the same time. The confusing part was how to get them in and out of the water. I'd assumed they came with some kind of lowering apparatus, but this wasn't the case. They do have a holder, but I'll be damned if I can figure out how it is useful. I ended up just using my big barbecue tongs to plunge the plates into the water and fish them out again a minute later. It took me two tries to get it right. I cooked the first batch for too long and they turned to mush, but the second batch were useable and I was able to get a whole bunch of spring rolls done.
This is more of a how-to than a recipe because there isn't a lot of cooking involved once you master the rice paper business. I am certainly no expert at rolling them and tend to just muddle through until they seem spring roll-ish. I'm sure there are some helpful tutorials on You Tube or something, but I learned to cook in the nineties, so I'm hard wired to muddle through without internet video assistance.
Basically, I sauteed small squares of tofu in sesame oil and splashed them with soy sauce. I chopped up a cucumber and picked a bunch of basil and cilantro from my garden. I used to make these with slices of mango in them as well, but the Man of Science has this thing about fruit in savory dishes, so I left the mango out to appease him. Mint also goes nicely in these, as do sesame seeds. Crunchy! Yum!
Once the wraps were successfully cooked, I plopped a bunch of each ingredient in the centre of each wrap and rolled them up to the best of my ability. We ate them dipped in Sri Racha hot sauce, along with some tempura asparagus and avacado maki rolls. Heavenly.