Often when I cook I don’t feel that what I have done really warrants a recipe – most of my cooking is spontaneous, I will look through my cupboards, herbs and spices, or remember something I ate somewhere once – grilled salmon served on lemon potato mash for example or seared tuna with whole coriander seeds (they seem too big to be called seeds really) – and while my approximations turn out well for the most part, I wouldn’t really call it cooking by recipe – when I do use an official recipe I don’t post it for copyright reasons or If I do mention it I will link to the place you can find the official recipe. Anyhow, today’s recipe is really a non-recipe again, it’s more a list of ingredients and some comments and then the exhortation to try this for yourself , if you haven’t eaten it before. I first ate these rolls in 2003 in Friendship Heights – I think it was at the Cheesecake factory, but I could be wrong, recently a friend and I went out for what she called the best Vietnamese restaurant in Switzerland, as she has Vietnamese roots I was very hopeful, and when we ate there I was ecstatic. I know nothing about Vietnamese food BUT I can identify fresh ingredients and clean sharp flavours and this place was wonderful, everything prepared fresh to order, entailing a wait, but I love to wait for my food if the outcome is what I was provided with that night. For anyone living in Switzerland the place is called Saigon Moon located in Basel, it really is worth a visit. So I had summer rolls on Monday, then I went back the next night to have more summer rolls, the night after it was sushi and then on the 4th night of the week I went to the Asian store and asked the lady who worked there if she could help me identify the right wrappers and the right noodles, I have tried to make these at home before, but my rice wrappers always tore when I tried to fill them. My friend recommended I ask for help to get the best brands and hey presto it worked. So here is my non-recipe for summer rolls – you will need the following ingredients:
Rice noodles still dry
Nice noodles cooked for 5 minutes in boiling water and then rinsed under cold water – love how they glisten:
Get all your ingredients ready on plates as above: soy sprouts, cucumber slices, mint leaves, thai basil (nice and peppery, you could use other basil but it wouldn’t be the same), firm but not too firm tofu slices, and the rice noodles prepared as stated on the pack.
Soak your rice paper in warm water for 1 minute (or as mentioned on the packet) I ended up doing it on a flattish plate so I could hold the rice paper flat with one hand while draining off the water, this had the added value that the wrapper remained flat, it’s quite hard to get it flat again once it’s folded over.
Lay your ingredients onto the soaked rice paper wrapper in the middle – try to align the soy sprouts if they are not aligned they they to poke through the rice wrapper when you roll it up. Et voila:
Admittedly not the worlds most proficient rolled roll, but it tasted wonderful all the same!
I served with:
Smooth honey roast peanut butter about 1/4 cup, with about 1 tablespoon of added sweet chili sauce for chicken (that is what it is labeled as bizarrely) I then added some scotch bonnet chili sauce I brought home from Grenada to ad a bit of a kick.
Also served it with this sauce which is what the restaurant served them with:
Hoisin sauce ( which is quite sweet and sticky by itself) – add lime juice to taste (make sure it’s not too limey – but that the sweetness still comes through, if you get it right the sauce will have a slight pineapple touch to it) – added sriracha sauce which is what the restaurant gave us to add oomph, and then I unashamedly covered it all in roasted peanuts that the Asian store sells by the 100g.
Quite frankly – the rolls were delicious. I could practice rolling techniques, might beg the restaurant chef to teach me…or my friend…