The Condensed Chef
By Doug Anderson
Reprinted from Bulletin 095, April 4, 2004
Today's recipe is both at once inexpensive and exciting. However, if you don't have access to an Asian market or upscale supermarket, you may not be able to find the principle ingredient: spring roll wrappers. Here again, is when you call on a relative you may happen to know to hook you up with those "hard to find" ingredients. Not that spring roll wrappers are hard to find, but it is best if you use the translucent ones, and they are slightly less common than the "ordinary" kind.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Spicy Dipping Sauce
Ingredients for spring rolls:
Spring roll wrappers (I use Banh Trang brand)
Fresh sprouts (Daikon are best, but any kind will work)
Pickled ginger (Available at most supermarkets with delis)
Bok Choy (Any cabbage will work)
Leeks (green onions will sub nicely)
Somen noodles, or any small pasta will work, including angel hair.
Ingredients for dipping sauce:
Tomato juice (2 small cans)
3 Dried red peppers (Even the kind you put on your pizza will work, if that's all you can find)
1 Shallot (one quarter medium sized onion will work)
2 Teaspoons Sesame oil
1 clove fresh garlic (fresh is best, but any will work)
1 dash turmeric or curry powder (optional)
Assembly of spring rolls:
Cook and rinse your noodles.
Fine dice all vegetables, except sprouts, of course.
Mince the pickled ginger, if it is not already minced in the jar.
Dampen both sides of the spring roll wrapper with warm water and let sit for 30 seconds on a dry, clean surface.
Place ingredients on the outside edge nearest your self, leaving 2 inches of space on both ends.
Roll half way, then tuck ends in.
Complete the roll, much like a burrito.
Allow one minute setting up time before serving.
Assembly of dipping sauce:
Prepare in food processor like a vinaigrette.
Start with your tomato juice, garlic, shallots and turmeric in the processor.
Slowly drizzle in the sesame oil until it thickens, about 2 minutes. (Never leave anything on in a processor too long, as the heat of the motor will give your ingredients a metallic flavor.)
You are probably asking yourself, "Why are there no measurements on the spring roll ingredients? Is he mad? What I am to do?" Don't panic. What you need to do is a "dry run" and decide what ratio of ingredients is most pleasing to your palate and go with that. I suggest easy on the sprouts (They tend to dominate) and don't spare the pickled ginger, as it is the key flavor ingredient. Obviously, you can use any other vegetables you may fancy, and may even add seafood or whatever meat you may have lying around. Be creative, it doesn't hurt.
With the dipping sauce, you may want to save some time and just buy a pre-made one; there are several good store-bought variations out there, but here again, you have to live in a city with good supermarkets or an Asian market.
I can't tell you how gratifying it is to hear about readers trying my recipes. Not that I invented this stuff, but it is still flattering to think that I may have affected your lives, even in a minor way. Keep up the good work and keep the feedback coming in. See you next time!
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