Vegan Summer Rolls: Try Them This Weekend

>> Thursday, December 3, 2009

The month may be December . . . and the temperatures may be dipping far into the lower digits, but that sure as heck doesn't mean you can't enjoy fresh, flavorful summer rolls made in your very own kitchen! In college, my good friend Meg made a batch for lunch one day . . . and I was absolutely astounded that she was able to fashion together such an impressive meal. What may seem like a daunting process is really not so bad once you break it down. Oh yeah, and once get the hang of folding those delicate rice paper wrappers.

Fear not, though. I'm here to guide you!

Ingredients vary from recipe to recipe -- so what I suggest to use isn't the exhaustive list of possible components. Think of it as a build-your-own taco station, or something like that. It's fun, custom, and delicious -- and, if you plan it right, can be a great FREEKEND meal (making use of all those leftover carrots and bean sprouts).

STEP 1: Assemble Your Ingredients

What you'll need . . .

  • 1 package udon noodles (see photo above)
  • 1 package spring roll/ rice paper wrappers
  • Bean sprouts or regular sprouts
  • 2 to 3 carrots, shaved
  • 1/2 block tofu, pressed and cut into small-ish rectangles (see photo below)
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • Splash sesame oil
  • Splash low sodium soy sauce
  • Sesame seeds (we used some black sesame seeds that we picked up at a local Asian food market)
  • Hoisin sauce

STEP 2: Prepare Your Ingredients

Method . . .

  1. Fill a large stockpot with water (and a splash of salt) and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook udon noodles until soft -- about 7 or 8 minutes (but keep checking to make sure they aren't TOO done). Drain and pour cold water over them to cool.
  3. In a small bowl, mix carrot shavings with sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds.
  4. Lay out all ingredients to make assembly a breeze.
  5. Fill a large bowl (large enough to fit the rice paper) with hot water.
  6. You may need to dump and refill with hot water during the process (it gets cool quickly).
  7. Also lay out a clean kitchen towel. This is where you'll assemble everything.

STEP 3: Assemble Your Summer Rolls (and don't make fun of my hair -- I was growing it!)

Method . . .

  1. Dip in one rice wrapper into the hot water at a time -- keep submerged in water for about 15 - 20 seconds (this really is trail and error if you're a first-timer -- you may destroy several wrappers, but that's OK -- keep trying, and keep your method delicate).
  2. Transfer softened rice paper to your clean kitchen towel (it may tear a bit, but that's OK) and add ingredients into the middle of the circle in this order: udon noodles, sprouts, carrot mixture, tofu, and basil leaf.
  3. Roll rice paper tightly around filling (first fold the left side over, then roll it to the right) and then fold over the top and bottoms.
  4. Put finished summer rolls on plate and, when you're ready to eat, serve with the hoisin sauce.

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