The excellent culinary karma continues at our house. First, thanks to our CSA, we’ve discovered purslane, which W and I both love; second, thanks to the Purple Cook and Martha Stewart, I’ve conquered beets–I just don’t like them plain or in borscht or in salad, but beet chips? mmmm.
And, finally, we tried making our own fresh spring rolls the other day and it was an unbelievable success. W and I love fresh spring rolls, but although the girls enjoy their share of ethnic delights, they’ve consistently turned up their noses at these in a restaurant setting. Probably because there’s usually something less exotic or, better yet, fried, on the table at the same time. So I wasn’t entirely sure how these would go over with the girls.
I’d seen rice spring roll wrappers in the store, but I’d assumed that they were too expensive and complicated. Well, they weren’t expensive. The ones I bought were at Hannaford, and it was $1.39 for a package of “approximately 12” wrappers. In fact, there were 15! Bonus! They were also labeled Vietnamese, but I decided to go Pan-Asian/Asian Fusion for our meal. In other words, I rummaged through my kitchen for random Asian condiments. I found some chili sauce, some Hoisin sauce, some particularly-yummy-and-a-little-too-expensive Thai peanut sauce, and my beloved rice vinegar.
Then I gathered up a mess of fixin’s to put into the spring rolls. I had leftover chicken, and I heated up some leftover rice as a concession to the girls’ limited palates. I also mixed the peanut sauce with some peanut butter to make it milder (and thriftier!).
And then the fun began! The wrappers looked like plastic. I mean, really: at first I thought that there was a package within the package. But it turns out that you have to put them into some warm water to soften them up and make them look familiar. We brought a cake pan filled with water to the table and made them right there. So it was almost like a craft as well as a meal, and the girls had so much fun that they were a bit more open to trying the “weird” stuff. J got her wrappers tangled and shaped them into dumplings while M pretended that she was conducting a cooking show. They settled into using a bunch of carrots and some herbs from the cutting board, and we foraged in the garden and the fridge for more of almost everything.
This is a great meal for taking advantage of in-season foods, like fresh herbs and carrots and cucumbers. Yum. I was pondering what else would be good to add to the spread, and I think sliced mushrooms, matchsticks of peppers and cucumbers, mung bean sprouts, chopped peanuts, water chestnuts, shredded meats or chopped shrimp or tofu would all be yummy additions. We enjoyed it so much that we’re going to do it again for Saturday dinner, and this time, we’re going even bigger.