Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer Meals in Arizona: Spring Rolls

Obviously Arizona is a hot state. But hot doesn't really do it justice. Today it was somewhere around 110 degrees. Despite it being so hot, you have to live. And to live you have to eat. Well, how do you eat without turning on the oven or getting the house too hot? Since I am already warmer than normal (perhaps due to own little oven working away), I want to do everything possible to cook delicious meals without turning on the stove. One might think the grill would be a good option, but we don't have one, nor does it seem right to send Danny out in 100 degree whether just to avoid the oven. This weekend I decided, at the suggestion of Danny, to make spring rolls. I was a little bit intimidated by that suggestion, since I have never even thought of making spring rolls, but they turned out to be so easy!

To make spring rolls, you will need a few ingredients which you probably don't have on hand like rice paper and rice noodles, but most of the other ingredients are pretty typical. They call for a lot of fresh veggies: carrots, bell pepper, cabbage, green onion, cilantro, and mint. All of those ingredients should be thinly sliced and set in a bowl to marinate in olive oil and salt and pepper, save the mint. (The mint will just be sliced thinly and garnished on top of the veggies). I don't have proportions because I eye-balled everything based on how hungry Danny and I were. The spring rolls were going to be our only course, so I made a good amount. Marinating all together, the veggies fit in a medium size bowl. While the veggies marinate, you should cook the rice noodles. It only takes a few minutes, and you don't want them to get overcooked otherwise they get gummy. After these two steps, you are ready for the best part! Prepping the rice paper and preparing the rolls is fun and they look pretty, too!

The rice paper comes in a little flat like this. 
 The rice paper is very firm and has to be soaked for about 10-15 seconds before they are ready to be rolled. You will know because they become clear and very flimsy.
Soaking the rice paper. 
 You can see in the photo above that I have a little set up. I have my laptop there because I watched a video  on how assemble the spring roll. I also have a large cutting board and in front of that the plate of noodles and the bowl of veggies.

 After soaking the paper, lay it on the cutting board and put a layer of rice noodle.
Rice should go down first. If you are using shrimp or tofu, these would go first. Basically you need a base so that the veggies don't poke through the paper too much
On top of the noodles, place a little serving of the veggies. You want to make sure you grab a good mixture so you get the flavors of each veggie.

 Then put a little bit of mint on top of the veggies.
Isn't it so pretty and fresh looking! 
Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of the rolling process but you can watch this video which makes it very clear. All you do is fold in the sides and then roll from the bottom. You want to get it pretty tight. If the veggies pop through, just wrap it with a second piece of rice paper. Then place them on a plate, seam down. After assembling them all, place them in the fridge for about 10 minutes so they can chill and the paper can seal.

The finished product!

These spring rolls were the best summer dinner! They were so cold and refreshing. They were also extremely filling! We each ate three for dinner and then had the rest for lunch the next day. Next time I would do a few things differently: 1) I would use a bean sprout instead of rice noodles, or maybe just less noodle. With the rice noodle and the rice paper, there is a lot of the same texture and flavor. 2) I would also make my own dipping sauce. This time I just bought some hoisin sauce. It worked fine but it would be pretty simple to just whip up a sauce pretty fast.

All in all, we loved these and will definitely be making them all the time this summer!

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