Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spring Rolls with Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce

I think spring rolls might be the ultimate appetizer. You can put anything you want in them, they're fresh and full of vegetables, you can dip them in any different kind of sauce (anything involving sauce is tops with me). Plus they're fun to make and kids love helping. One of the best and easiest ways to get my kids to try new foods is to have them help me make it. It's so easy for kids to help put the filling into spring rolls - you can even let them choose the fillings they like best. You should tailor this recipe by putting you your favorite vegetables (cabbage, mung bean sprouts, sliced avocado, kim chi, carrots, red or green onion, etc.), this is just how I like them.

For the Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce:
1/2 c. natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp. chili garlic paste (or Asian hot paste, start with 1 tsp. if you're sensitive to spicy food)
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
1 tsp. pure maple syrup or agave nectar
1" knob of fresh ginger, grated

For the Spring Rolls:
2 oz. mung bean thread noodles or very thin rice noodles
1 Tbsp. shoyu or tamari
1 Tbsp. mushroom flavored soy sauce (or more shoyu)
8 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 a red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
Cilantro leaves (about 1 c.)
About 1/3 recipe for Baked Tofu or 4-5 thin slices
10-12 sheets spring roll wrappers (rice paper)

1) For the dipping sauce, place all of the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2) Place the shoyu or tamari and mushroom flavored soy sauce in a bowl and add the thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms. Toss to cover the mushrooms with the sauce and then set aside to marinade as you prepare the other ingredients.

3) Fill a sauce pan with very hot water and add 2 oz. of bean thread or very thin rice noodles and let them sit in the water for about 8-10 minutes until softened. Drain with a fine mesh colander and then place the colander over the pan you used to soak them so they can drain.

4) As the noodles soak in the hot water slice your peppers, get the cilantro washed & ready to go and slice your baked tofu into long thin strips.

5) Once you have everything ready to go, take the mushrooms and pour the excess mariade from them over the noodles that are resting in the colander over the pan and toss them around with your hand to coat them in the marinade.

6)Take a large baking dish (like a 9x13 one) and fill it about 1/2 way up with very hot water. Then dampen a dish cloth and hang it lengthwise over the edge of your counter so that half of it is on the counter and the other half is hanging down.

7) To assemble the spring rolls, place a sheet of rice paper into the hot water and leave it in there for 30-60 seconds or so, until it's fully hydrated and no longer hard. Then carefully take the wrapper out of the water, place it on the dampened dishtowel making sure to flatten it out, fold the edge of the towel that's hanging down up over the wrapper and pat it a little to remove the excess moisture, and then pull the towel off and let it hang over the edge of the counter again while keeping the wrapper on the other half of the towel.

8) Place a small handful of the noodles onto the bottom 1/3 of the wrapper and then top the noodles with the mushrooms, peppers, tofu and cilantro. Note: once I put the noodles on the wrapper I usually put the next rice paper wrapper into the hot water to let is soak so it's ready when I want to make the next spring roll.

9) Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling and pull down to secure and roll it about 1/3 of the way up. Then fold in both sides and continue to roll the rice paper until completely sealed and set on a serving platter. Note: if you are making a lot of spring rolls it's a good idea to keep a damp cloth over the completed spring rolls so that they don't dry out and stick together.

This serves 4-6 as appetizers.

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