Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tofu Spring Rolls

how I roll (snort!)

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.

spring roll inards

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.

spring roll



HayMarket8 said...

These look great. I have never dared make my own spring rolls, they intimidate me. :)

A said...

Absolutely beautiful! I always order rolls at restaurants but I honestly never thought to make them at home!

T said...

Yum, what a treat! I bet those would be good stuffed with mango too...

Anonymous said...

Wowza, how amazing looking!

One trick that I read about, is to soak the rice paper wraps in warm water (for about 30 seconds each), instead of boiling. That might reduce some of the torture (and work!).

One question for you, though! How do you make the tempura? I haven't been able to find a vegan tempura batter recipe anywhere! Thanks sooooo much!


Cyn said...

Those look so delicious! I love spring rolls. I don't boil the wrappers when I make them though, I just soak them in warm water till they get soft.

eileen said...

yes spring rolls! especially yes on the mint front! I don't generally do mango, but that sounds really good right about now.

I also don't cook the rice paper wraps, but just let them soften individually in a pie plate of water for maybe 30 seconds before filling them.

Anonymous said...

i thought i posted something yesterday - my vietnamese friend showed me to just soak the wrappers in hot/warm water till almost soft (they soften even more afterwards) - it works much better than boiling. the perforated plates you have may be for steaming as opposed to boiling.

pixiepine said...

Those look so good. Spring roll wrappers are right up there with phyllo dough for me...such a pain, but delicious!

J. said...

Thanks, everyone! Hot water it is, next time. We'll see how that goes. I imagine it will be much easier.

And Linnea: there's a Japanese grocery near my old place that sells vegan tempura batter (I think it's just cheap, so it has no eggs!) so I usually just use that.


itstartedwithafish said...

oh my, I never cook the ricepaper... otherwise you'd never see me make another batch, I am no way as herioc as you are !!!!

I simply soak them in I'd say cool water till they get wiggly, take out two, spread them on my silpat and fill them ... oh my... who knows, I may be hazarduous to my family's health... but... that's the way I make them .. uhoh !

Anonymous said...

I'm actually making my first spring rolls today and I'm quite exited about it.I see you made yor own receipe,I'm gonna make it with moon mushrooms,rice pasta,tofu,carrot and soy sauce.hmmm hope they will be eatable^^ cheers.