Vegetable Salad Rolls with Asian dipping sauce
I was travelling for several weeks recently eating at restaurants every day. As good as (some) restaurant food can be, I came home craving homemade fresh and simple food. I had good experience on these trips with Asian vegan food and came home excited and enthusiastic to make some at home. I have already made a couple of dishes that were blog worthy but had no opportunity to photograph them as I served them before I had a chance to set up my camera. I will have to make them again.
Today I wanted to make a light lunch that could be prepared a little in advance and salad rolls came to mind because I had some ingredients that fitted perfectly into the flavour palate, with a little unexpected item (see below). Since I am still quite jet lagged, I fall asleep early and then wake up in the middle of the night and since I can’t start making noise in the kitchen (hubbie sleeping like a babe) I get up and read, and as you can imagine, it is often cookbooks. The recent addition to my expanding cookbook library are a few Israeli cookbooks that I shipped from Israel through UPS. I stacked them on my bedside table for reading and last night at 3:00 am started to leaf through the pages to see what they contained. In one of the books I found a recipe for salad rolls that had chopped dates in them. Since I like a touch of sweetness in my food I thought that was an interesting idea worth trying.
So as soon as it became reasonable (time-wise) to putter around in the kitchen I got up and begun chopping and slicing vegetables to make these salad rolls. I already had julienned vegetables from an Asian slaw I made yesterday, so it didn’t take me long to assemble a few bowls of the ingredients to be rolled into the rice paper rounds. When making salad rolls it is important to assemble all the ingredients in advance (called mis en place in French) as the thin rice paper does not like to sit around waiting for you. It can dry fast. Salad rolls are easy to make and if you place them on a plate, cover with damp paper towels and then cover with plastic wrap, they can keep for a few hours in the fridge without a problem.
The inspiration comes from an Israeli cookbook loosely translated as The Vegetarian Kitchen of “On the Table”, which I believe is a food magazine in Israel but it is in Hebrew. The same author, Orly Pley Bronshtein has another book that was translated to english, Fresh Flavours from Israel that you can buy on Amazon. This is not the same Orly that I did the tour and cooking class with in Tel Aviv a few weeks ago.
The salad rolls can be served whole or you can cut them in half diagonally. They are good as a light lunch, a snack or even as appetizers. If you haven’t made them before don’t hesitate to try, they are easy to make and quite rewarding. You can serve them with this home made dipping sauce that goes well with them, or buy a good quality sauce like peanut, chilli or some other flavour that appeals to you. The sauce I offer here was adapted from another book: Rebar, Modern Food Cookbook, from the famed Victoria BC restaurant, where it is used in a Thai Cabbage slaw recipe but I eliminated the 1/2 cup peanut oil and added Thai sweet chilli paste. this way it worked for me.
8 Rice paper rounds
Rice noodles – 2 cups cooked
Julienned vegetables – 2 cups (thinly shredded cabbage (green and red), carrots, red pepper.
2 cups baby lettuce leaves
8 dates, pit removed, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
1 cup chives, chopped
2 shallots, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, grated
A pinch dried hot pepper flakes
Juice from 1-2 limes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon red curry paste
2 tablespoon Thai sweet chilli sauce (more if needed to suit your taste)
Optional: 2 tablespoon sesame oil (or keep it oil free)
1/2 teaspoon salt
It is important to have all the ingredients ready for assembly. Prepare each ingredient and place in a bowl on the counter in front of your work surface.
Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Generally you drop them into boiling water, leave covered for 3-4 minutes and then drain and rinse under cold water and drain.
Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to dissolve.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil and pour into a dish wide enough to have the rice paper rounds dipped into it.
You will be working with one rice paper round at a time. Dip the rice paper into the hot water for a few seconds to soften it, hold the edges and turn over once. Remove and place on your work surface spreading the edges so it is round. I work on a large piece of wax or parchment paper.
It is difficult to say exactly how much filling to put onto the rice paper, use your judgement and place a reasonable amount for each.
Lay a line of salad greens in the middle of the salad roll vertically.
Top with rice noodles, shredded vegetables, dates, peanuts and chives.
Fold the top and bottom part of the rice paper so they sort of meet in the middle, then roll the rice paper from right to left, folding the edges in and tucking the filling in to create a roll. I find that this method always keeps the filling contained.
Place prepared salad rolls on a plate and cover with a double thickness of paper towels that has been wet under running water and the water squeezed out.
Continue with remaining rice papers until you have used up all the ingredients. If the rolls touch each other they may stick later so space them up a bit.
If you are not using them immediately then place a plastic wrap over the rolls (and the damp paper) and keep refrigerated.
Serve with the dipping sauce.