Monday, August 2, 2010

Summer Time, Time for Summer Rolls

It is still balls hot right now in Tokyo. I'm apparently allergic to A/C so I've been using it in tiny spurts here and there but for the most part, the apartment is just too hot to cook in. While I've enjoyed eating out, I just could not kick a craving for fresh summer rolls. And who better to make it than me? Thankfully, summer rolls require very little cooking.

After I made my first roll, I literally jumped up and down and squeeled with glee. Partly because it looked so pretty and partly because this is the first time I've ever made goi cuon on my own and I managed to do it in Japan. I cannot stress to you more, the frustrating nature of wanting to make a certain dish and not be able to do it properly (or at all) because you can't find the right ingredients. (Cue slideshow of failed attempts to make thit kho, risotto, pie, chicken curry and tomato sauce) For me, cooking in Japan takes a lot of effort. In order to make these 10 spring rolls today, I went to 2 grocery stores, translated Vietnamese and Chinese into Japanese, try to find sufficient substitutes for the things I couldn't find and then hope that it all worked out. That one spring roll gave me so much joy because it represented one of the very few victories in my kitchen this year. I guess it's just a good reminder that cooking is hard and I don't more prepared? Hopefully I'll have more victories in this 2nd year in Japan. I'm a little bit more hip to the game and more aware of the things I can or cannot get at my local grocery store.

So yeah, I made summer rolls or goi cuon (salad roll). Aside from assembly, the cooking part of this recipe couldn't be easier. It's a good thing my mom put me through Vietnamese Rolling Techniques bootcamp last summer.


(there is no green tea in this recipe, I just have a messy kitchen) 
  • 10 shrimps, shelled and deveined 
  • 1/2 lb of pork loin or roast 
  • Vietnamese rice noodles
  • Vietnamese rice paper
  • Lettuce (I have no idea what kind I used, but it resembled butter lettuce) 
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved and sliced thinly
  • Cilantro
  • Mint
  • Chinese chives or scallions 
1. Poach the shrimp in salted water until cooked through. Halve the shrimps when cool enough to handle.  
2. Poach the pork in salted water until cooked through. Slice thin pieces of pork when cool enough to handle. 
3. Cook rice noodles in boiling water until cooked through. Rinse under cold water. 
4. Fill a large bowl with warm water. 
5. Dip the rice paper in the bowl of water so that the whole sheet gets wet, but don't soak it. You'll have to figure out how much water to use for yourself, but rice paper absorbs water slowly. You may think it's not soft enough but just be patient. 
6. Set the rice paper on a clean cutting board. First place the lettuce on the side closest to you. Top the lettuce with noodles, then mint, then 2 pieces of pork, then cilantro. Place 4 slices of cucumber directly on the rice paper above the lettuce. 
7. Roll the rice paper half way, then stop. Add 3 pieces of shrimp onto the rice paper. Fold in the sides. Place 1 leaf of the chive onto the shrimp so that it sticks out of one end. 
8. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and finish rolling. 

TADA! Wasn't that easy? There's a really good rolling tutorial here

The dipping sauce is a combination of hoisin, Sriracha and chunky peanut butter cut with a little bit of water. Play around with your own proportions because I'm too lazy to think about how exactly I made mine tonight. I think it was something like, 2 TB Hoisin, 3 TB PB, 2 TB water and a healthy squeeze of Sriracha. 

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