Twice a week, Ash drives to uni after work. He doesn’t have time to eat dinner at home, and it’s not practical to eat a meal either at work or in class. So he picks up a large Quarter-Pounder meal from McDonalds on the way.
Shock and horror.
No man of mine need eat a dirty sloppy burger meal twice weekly for dinner! I mean, when an alcohol-induced appetite induces him to go to the (dangerously positioned) McDonalds across the street to pick up a bucket of grease, that’s different. If he wants to eat junk I’m not about to stop him. But if it’s only because a burger is manageable while driving, sandwiches can’t be fully prepared as they go soggy, and he doesn’t have time to eat/make a sandwich before leaving, that’s not cool! And he doesn’t like eating junk on a regular basis. So we brainstormed… and…
Enter the rice-paper roll.
Tasty healthy fillings, with all mess contained, in a hand-held fuss-free roll. Winner! The fillings can be as weird and wonderful as you like, I’ve actually done a set with leftover chickpeas, which was far from traditional. But this recipe is what I made last week, and Ash liked it so much he saved me one to try. So I’ve made it again this week and documented the process (with an overload of photos, sorry). Put whatever you like in it, but if you’re not sitting down at a table with it and therefore can’t serve with a dipping sauce, make sure the filling is tasty enough without. If you do have two hands, a table and time for dinner available, leave the sauce out of the roll and serve it on the side – you might want to thin it with a bit of water for dipping.
Rice-paper rolls aren’t difficult to make. I hadn’t attempted them until recently due to fear of the unknown, which turned out to be totally unfounded. Just depending on your rice-paper and the heat of the water, you might need to soak the sheet for two seconds or ten. As soon as the rice-paper starts to soften take it out, because it will continue softening as you fill it. And a slightly chewy roll is preferable to one that tears and falls apart, in my opinion.
As far as what you work on, I just used a plastic chopping board, which does the job just fine. If you haven’t rolled before, start with less filling (only fill 1/3 of the sheet) until you get the hang of it. After that you’ll be right to shove them full of spinach like I’ve done to these ones, compressing the filling as you roll.
It’s also useful to set up a production line with each roll’s filling laid out. It may look dorky but it makes the job a lot easier. Trust me, or don’t, and suit yourself.
Peanut satay rice-paper rolls (makes about 10 rolls, and apparently 2 rolls is a man-sized dinner)
I don’t want to write like a wanker using fancy cooking terms that I wouldn’t ordinarily use in conversation, but I would describe something as ‘julienned’. If you don’t already know what that means, it just means cut into fine matchsticks.
- Large rice-paper sheets
- ~150g firm tofu, cut into sticks. I’ve been using a “Chinese 5-spice” marinated one from Woolworths, but whatever tofu you have would work fine, so long as it’s firm.
- A handful of mushrooms, chopped
- Satay sauce (see below)
- A carrot, julienned
- A few asparagus spears, julienned
- 1/2 bunch coriander (traditionally you’d use mint but Ash hates it)
- A bag of baby spinach.
- Prepare all your ingredients, and set up a production line with prepped ingredients, rice-paper, a shallow bowl of hot
water, a clean space to roll and space to cling wrap.
- Dip a sheet of rice-paper in the hot water and as soon as it starts to soften, lift out and lay flat on your work surface.
- Across one side, spread a few pieces of tofu and a small handful of mushrooms. Drizzle a little less than a teaspoon of sauce over it.
- Add the carrot, asparagus and baby spinach, and starting from the filled side, roll, pressing down a little on the salad
veggies. When almost rolled, fold the ends in and then finish rolling to seal.
- If you’re not serving them immediately, cling wrap and refrigerate and they’ll keep well for up to a week.
Peanut satay sauce (makes enough for the above quantity of rolls)
- 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- fresh or dried chilli to taste (1 tsp dried perhaps? I used 5 itty-bitty fresh ones)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl or jar.
- Taste and adjust the flavours until it tastes good enough to eat straight from the spoon.