Friday, April 8, 2011

Salad Rolls! And Peanut Sauce!

These are the single most popular vegan potluck item in the history of veganism and potlucks. That claim is backed by a significant amount of research and trial and error with a variety of different control groups (sort of). But seriously, I have never ever taken home a left over salad roll and once someone told me that he could "drink my peanut sauce by the gallon." And the best part is they are SO cheap and SO easy once you get the hang of the actual rolling part.

Alright so let's get real. Here they are:

Gorgeous huh? There are a couple important ingredients that you need to have to make traditional salad rolls and then the rest is kind of up to you. 

For the Salad Rolls (Recipe makes about 15 rolls)
  • 1 package Vietnamese rice paper circles (you can get these pretty much anywhere these days)
  • 1 package vermicelli noodles
  • 1 14 oz package firm tofu cut into about 4 inch long, 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 2 small or 1 large avocado sliced lengthwise into about 1/4 inch slices
  • 15 good sized and pretty looking basil leaves
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage/bean sprouts/lettuce/carrots/whatever else you have around
Start by slicing up your tofu because you will have to lightly pan fry it while your vermicelli noodles are cooking. Bring about 6 cups of water to a boil and toss in your vermicelli noodles. Cook them until they are soft but not mushy (should bb no more than 5-6 minutes depending on the thickness of your noodles. They are rice and they are thin so they cook quickly)

While those are going, coat the bottom of your pan with vegetable or canola oil and bring the heat up to medium. Throw in your tofu and fry it lightly until one side is golden brown and then use tongs to flip each piece over to pan fry the other side. Add more oil as needed.

While the tofu is frying and the noodles are cooking, slice up your avocado and whatever additional veggies that are not already pre-sliced. Also prep your basil leaves. Have everything handy so that when all the ingredients are ready you can just get right on rollin'.

To cook the rice paper circles, all you have to do is soak them in hot (but not boiling -  you should be able to stick your hand in it without feeling uncomfortable) water for about 30-45 seconds until they are soft but AGAIN not too soft because if they get too mushy they won't roll up properly. I almost want to use the word tacky here. They should be tacky and flexible. They should NOT a) rip apart in your hands b) mush into a solid mass as soon as you remove them from the water or c) be so hot you can't handle them.

Once all the ingredients are prepped, start on your rice paper. I usually use a wide and shallow bowl but you can use anything that is larger than the circumference of the rice paper circle and that will hold hot water. When the first sheet is done, place it on a flat surface. About a third of the way from the bottom place the basil leaf horizontally - this will serve as your guide for placing the rest of the ingredients. Then place 2-3 strips of tofu and a slice of avocado in the nest of the basil leaf. Then place your lettuce/cabbage/bean sprout fixin's and finally place your cooked and drained vermicelli noodles on top. When all the ingredients are in to your liking (don't over stuff the rolls or you will make your life difficult when it comes to the actual rolling part) roll each roll as follows:

  1. Fold the bottom third of the rice paper over the ingredients so that it covers them. 
  2. Fold the left side in
  3. Fold the right side in
  4. Holding the sides so that they don't come unrolled, finish rolling up your salad roll and then place it, vermicelli noodles down and basil up, on whatever type of tray you plan on using to serve it.
It's kind of like folding a burrito. It takes some practice to get the right consistency for the rice paper and the right rolling technique, but once you get it down you will be whipping these things out like Willow Smith. 

Continue trial and erroring with your rice paper (you should have MORE than enough - I think I went through a whole package on my first time making these and still came out with like 20 good ones). Arrange in an aesthetically pleasing way and you are nearly ready for your pot luck.

I say nearly because no salad roll is complete without a nice dip in a pool of peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce Recipe (It's fool proof, I promise)

Ingredients required:
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter (the higher the quality the peanut butter, the better tasting the sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and peanuty.

Note: This sauce is not particularly spicy. If you like it spicy (as I do) double the amount of Sriracha sauce or EVEN BETTER just adjust the ingredients to your liking. If you like your sauce a little sweeter, add more agave. Heck sometimes I just totally mix things up by adding in fresh ginger or teriyaki sauce. Do what you feel is right. That is my cooking motto.

So are you ready to be the most popular person at your potluck?! Good. Because you will be. Everyone loves salad rolls and so it naturally follows that everyone will love you.

Love long and prosper, fellow vegans. 

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