SAUTEED VEGGIE SUMMER ROLLS With mixed mushroom, coriander and chili
Ingredients: (makes 6 small rolls / serves 2) 2 cups mixed mushrooms 1 small red chilli 1 inch fresh ginger 1 tsp tamari or liquid aminos ½ packet of vermicelli noodles 6 small spring roll rice wrappers
Method: 1. Chop mushrooms lengthwise, finely chop chilli, ginger & coriander. 2. Heat a non stock pan on medium heat, add chilli, ginger & mushrooms 3. Add a dash at a time of either tamari or liquid aminos and sautee until tender 4. Cook vermicelli noodles as per packet instructions 5. Using a large bowl or a saucepan of warm water, place one sheet in for
approx 15 seconds or until just soft, remove and lay on a chopping
board. 4. Arrange a row of fresh coriander leaves along the centre of the rice
paper, follow with the mushrooms and rice noodles, making
sure to leave the top and bottom free 5. Fold ends in and roll up firmly to enclose filling and repeat with remaining rice paper and filling
It creates wonderfully juicy chunks of seitan which is exactly what you want! Nobody wants dry fried chicken!
Now the secret is the skin. You know those rice papers to make clear spring rolls? You can buy them dried in any Asian supermarket. You want to soak one in warm water until it becomes soft and floppy then lay it out on the side. Put a seitan chunk in the middle and wrap the sides around to cover the whole thing. Do this for all your chunks and set them to one side.
Next up you want to make the coating. I use plain flour mixed with various herbs and spices. I recommend smoked paprika, pepper, onion power, salt, and anything else that takes your fancy.
In a seperate bowl you want some classic yellow mustard, mixed with a bit of water and a couple of spoons full of the flour mix. You want it to make a creamy paste, not too gloopy, not too runny.
Then grab your wrapped seitan chunks, roll them around in the mustard mix, then transfer to the flour bowl and ensure the whole thing is covered. You can then pop them into the deep fryer for a minute or so until golden and crispy.
Enjoy hot or cold with ketchup or vegan mayo! The magic really is in the spring roll paper making the fake skin!
I live in the coolest part of Manhattan as far as food is concerned for numerous reasons. Old school gelaterias and cheese and butcher shops litter the neighborhood to one side of my apartment. Chinatown, in all of its colorful, putrid, noisy, charming mayhem is two blocks away. Soho and Tribeca harbor plenty of upscale markets as well as the majority of “it” restaurants, old and new. Walking out of my door is a daily struggle for someone who lives to eat but also has to remain a size 2-4 to make a living.
My favorite of these resources is Chinatown. I so clearly remember my first sticky summer trek heading south down Mott street towards Canal. It was my first awkward but arousing embrace with Chinatown. I kept texting my parents excitedly as if they hadn’t each lived here before, as though I had discovered something they hadn’t.
You know those scenes in fantasy books or movies where a rather mundane environment becomes a pop-up fantasyland (think “Charlie and the Chocolate” factory when they finally enter the chocolate river/garden-thing; Bridge to Terabithia)? That was what it felt like leaving SoHo — where even the potted storefront flowers take themselves too seriously — for the unlawful firecracker that is Chinatown.
Hoards of Chinese people huddled around street vendors plucking herbs and bags of mung beans, there were stands and makeshift tables of unidentifiable vegetables and hairy fruit. The locals unapologetically gave me a harsh and pushy welcome into their space. I understood, I didn’t belong.
Though I couldn’t know what they were articulating I could see them bartering for better deals on already unbeatably cheap produce, a timeless exchange I really admire within street business. I wish I could bitch and moan my way from a $68 rack of lamb to a $20 dollar one at Dean and Deluca.
There were more 200 year old toothless women than I ever imagined existed, busily scooping tiny dried up sea creatures by the pound to make magic potion broths that obviously make you live forever. It smelled like a lot of different deaths in those jars at the Dried Up Creature/Plant Market but each jar is coincidentally labeled with the life giving benefits offered by their content. Promises of better skin, hair, digestion, sexual stamina, mental alertness, fertility and so on in Chinese characters underlined by penned broken English. Liver troubles? Make something with these dried up, gag inducing mushrooms! Diminishing eyesight? Eat the dried up entrails of these bird fetuses!
There were too many thick, questionable puddles for having had no rain in a week.
My favorite scene was of a man in a button up shirt running and screaming in 4000 year old gibberish with a set of three feet long tongs trying to catch pissed off crabs that had somehow managed to free themselves from the 20 square feet fish market, harshly lit by light bulbs only serial killers use to illuminate their torture labs in movies. Those bad, flickering, white-green lights that make noises like buzzing insects. Were the crabs aware of how creepy the lights were and thought maybe if they moved fast enough they’d escape death and find their way to the peachy and promising Hudson River? Newly hatched sea turtles have a better chance at dodging 30 hungry beach birds on their trek to the ocean than crabs do reaching the sewer pipes when surrounded by the most fearless people in the world + THOSE TONGS!?
Alligator legs and feet, live frogs, cows’ stomachs, hanging and emptied pigs…All within the entrance of an actual grocery “store”. Whole hanging ducks and glossy roasted pork to make me abandon any promise of healthy eating. A lot of pushing and grunting and no eye contact.
Fast forward two years later and I’m still absolutely lost, in awe of, in love with, disgusted by, but primarily stimulatingly intimidated by this little world. You could say I harbor similar sentiments towards men during the courting ritual of romances. Still, the end result — only brave enough to tackle docile little (DELICIOUS) spring rolls. I need some local hand holding!
***Perks of this dish: Super cheap to make, cooking level is beyond easy (boil water) and everyone can have fun getting their hands a little messy while they customize their roll. Read: good for kids.
Rice paper sheets/wrappers
Rice noodles or vermicelli, boiled until white and tender, 7 minutes
1 cucumber, skinned and julienned
1 large carrot, skinned and julienned
1 bunch of fresh mint
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1/2 lb of boiled shrimp, cut in half lengthwise
1 head of a green leaf lettuce with some crunch and texture, leaves separated
1 bunch of green onions, white and light green parts only, julienned
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 bowl of really hot water for softening rice paper
Optional: roasted pork, thinly sliced.
2/3 cup Chunky peanut butter
½ cup Hoisin sauce
1/3 cup water
Squeeze of garlic-chili paste (Sriracha)
1 lime’s juice
2 tsp fish sauce
Create a spread as seen here.
While mixing the ingredients for the sauce, allow your vermicelli to cook, boil for 5-7 minutes. I prefer the ingredients to reach room temp before making the rolls, including the noodles so don’t feel pressure to hastily prepare everything.
Easiest way to roll the spring rolls:
Take 1 sheet of rice paper and dip it in hot water bowl for about 7 seconds. Bring it out, softened and stretchy. Flatten on plate, place green of lettuce leaf first on 1/3 of rice paper closest to you, then layer on about 1 inch thick of vermicelli, a few slices of cucumber, carrot, avocado, add a few slice of green onion and herb leaves. Pull the loaded side of rice paper up and flip over tightly while using your fingers for support, aline 3-4 shrimp halves, then fold in both edges (like a burrito) and continue rolling until you have what resembles a condom wrapped salad. Delicious!
Rice paper, red pepper, carrot, sprouts, mungbeans, avocado, red onion and chicken cooked in garlic, chilli and pepper. I added apple cider vinegar and stevia to the pan after removing chicken to make a sweet chilli sauce.
It may seem a bit early for spring rolls to some but here in Texas it feels as if Spring has made an early entrance. As much as I love a good nip of winter I can’t say that I am not enjoying these 70 degree days and long hours of sunshine. I only wish that I had a bit more time to get out and enjoy it.
My husband and I are entering a short season of complete chaos with our schedules so I am trying to stock up on some easy recipes that are not only a breeze to make but will also be good for lunch on the go. These spring rolls have been some of my favorite. They offer a nice burst of freshness, flavor and energy when the day starts to take its wear.
Black Bean & Mango Spring Rolls + Spicy Peanut Sauce
8-10 rice paper spring roll wrappers, ( I found mine at Whole Foods)
2 cups of carrots, shredded
½ cup of cilantro, washed and de stemmed
1 mango, diced
1 ½ cups of cooked black beans
1 ½ tbsp of peanut butter or almond butter
2 tsp of sriracha
1 tsp of honey
½ tbsp of toasted sesame oil
a pinch of salt to taste
In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the peanut butter, sriracha, honey and sesame oil until uniform. Adjust sweetness and spiciness to your liking. Add a pinch or two of salt to taste.
Stir black beans into the peanut sauce then set aside until spring roll assembly.
Prepare your workstation by laying out all of your ingredients, a damp dish towel, and a large bowl filled with warm water.
To assemble spring rolls: Working with one roll at a time, place one rice paper into the bowl of warm water, not allowing it to curl up on itself and hold it there for about 30 sec-1 minute or until it is soft.
Carefully lay the soft rice paper out on a damp dish towel.
Layer a few pinches of cilantro down the middle of the rice paper. Next layer a small handful of carrots on top of that then 2-3tbsp of the bean mixture. Top off with with some diced mango.
Fold the top and bottom ends over the filling, tuck the right flap over towards the left side then snuggly roll and secure the left flap on top of the right flap. ( pictured above)
Repeat steps 4-7 until you are out of ingredients.