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Spring Rolls: Take One

September 6, 2020

It was a good effort, is about all I can say for it, but it’s a good starting point for future efforts.

Made Vietnamese fresh spring rolls.. that is, raw ingredients, wrapped in rice paper, eaten cold, just like that. Not fried. Not cooked in any way.

Dipped in dipping sauce.

Let me start with that. The recipe actually called for a sauce that is made with something called preserved black beans. When the coop did not have such a thing, Jim brought home regular black beans. When I read that regular black beans are not a substitute for preserved black beans, I ditched that dipping sauce recipe and found another that sounded pretty good. And it was.. best part of the whole dish, actually.

You whisk together some hoisin, peanut butter and a little pork broth (I used chicken broth). Then, quickly fry up some minced garlic in a little bit of oil, add the hoisin mixture, then some sugar, let it simmer a bit, and cool. It was too thick for dipping (even though they said to let it thicken), so I added a bit more broth. It was great.

Then prep some: basil, cilantro, mint, bean sprouts, chives and red bell pepper.

Those are the rice papers on the left.. they’ll be set in cold water until they get soft (but not soggy), about 30 seconds. This is the before.

Rolled up, they look like this:

Not the tidiest rolls. And in fact, the tighter and denser, the better. Lesson one (of many).

And here’s the whole presentation with that great dipping sauce, chopped peanuts and chopped chives (and peaches and frosty white wine.. because: summer).

So.. our evaluation was: They were pretty raw and lacking in substance. Were it not for the richness of the dipping sauce, they’d be pretty dull. So.. you could add rice or chicken or shrimp… something. And, as I said, pack them tightly so they don’t fall apart.

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