≡ Menu

rice paper rolls

There’s actually only a small window of the year when rice paper rolls are the perfect thing.  Avocados need to be in season, and coriander.  You need macadamias and limes for the dipping sauce.  Pickled radishes and turnips and ginger are wonderful in them.  And it needs to be warm enough for that cool, clean, crispness to be just what you feel like.

Rod and I made these ones to take to a trivia night fundraiser at the local high school.  We spent a lovely afternoon chopping and chatting, dipping and rolling.  They’re the perfect social food.  Normally for home I prepare all the fillings and let people assemble their own. Lay all the fillings out on the table along with a pan of very warm water. Each person dips the rice paper in the water for a minute to soften,  chooses fillings, rolls it up tucking the sides in as  they go, dips and eats.  Have competitions and friendly banter about who is the neatest roller, and who chooses the unlikeliest filling combination, and whose fillings all fall out into the dipping sauce.

The fillings for these ones included julienned snow peas, carrots and spring onions,  mizuna, avocado, vermicelli, bean sprouts, lots of coriander and mint, and pickled ginger, daikon and turnip.   The dipping sauce was:

  • roasted macadamias crushed with a mortar and pestle,
  • equal quantities of lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar
  • a touch of garlic and chili
  • a bit of water to mellow it out

All just shaken together in a jar and served in little bowls for people to dip.

making rice paper rolls

[relatedPosts]

{ 2 comments }

Edamame are green soy beans, and most Australians anyway only ever encounter them in a sushi bar. They’re easy to grow in a garden though, and to me, they work so well as a snack food because they have a distinct nuttiness to them. They remind me more of boiled peanuts than anything else.

Which raises all sorts of ideas about fusion-ing them into dishes from distinctly non-Japanese cuisines. This is one of the ways I like them. It’s kindof like sprinkling toasted nuts through a salad. It makes it into a satisfying meal rather than a side dish. It’s almost like your body recognises that there’s the full range of macro nutrients in there.

So edamame which is a Japanese idea, in fattoush which is an Arabic one. The joys of living in a multicultural society!

The Recipe:

Boil the edamame, in their shells, in heavily salted water for five minutes or so until they are tender, then shell them.  (They shell really easily once cooked).

While the edamame are cooking, toast some pita chips.  I use my sourdough pita, cut it into little triangles, sprinkle with olive oil, and put them on a tray in a hot oven for a few minutes till they are crisp.  You could also fry the pita chips.  Cut them into little triangles and fry in light olive oil, or some other oil with a fairly high smoke point,  for a few minutes, then drain on brown paper.  Or you could toast them under the griller. Whichever way you go, you want crisp little shards of bread.

While all this is happening, you can add another layer of multitasking and make the dressing.  This is just a very simple olive oil and lemon juice dressing: good fruity olive oil and fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, in a jar and shake together.

Assembling:

By adding edamame, we’re already going non-traditional, so I don’t suppose it matters what else you add.  This one has:

  • olives (green and black)
  • tomatoes (fresh and sundried)
  • feta
  • labneh
  • chopped parsley and mint
  • cucumber
  • lettuce
  • cooked, shelled endamame
  • pita chips

Lightly dress with the dressing – be careful not to drown it – and serve.  Or pack the pita chips and dressing separately so they stay crisp, pack the salad into a lunch box and make your workmates jealous.

{ 6 comments }

My kale is starting to flower, so it was time to finish it off. This hot weather will bring cabbage moths and aphids around anyhow. It has been really hardy and trouble free, and has borne really well for months now. I’ve used it regularly at least a couple of times a week – such a lot of food from such a small area.  It works well in soups and stews,  pasta and noodle dishes, stuffed and baked and very lightly steamed.  And it’s given me a big dose of a huge range of vitamins and minerals and some important anti-cancer phytochemicals all winter.  I’m sad to see it go!

But the chooks will love the stalks and older leaves, and I’ve picked all the younger, nicer leaves for this  Tuesday Night Vego Challenge. On hot evenings like we have been having lately, a platter of finger food and a cold beer on the verandah is the perfect dinner.

The Recipe:

This recipe made plenty for two of us for dinner. It isn’t exactly diet food, but the kale doesn’t absorb as much oil as you might think, and with dipping sauce and accompaniments it’s not too high fat. We like the batter with a bit of spiciness, but you can reduce the ginger, turmeric and chili if you want a milder version.

Make the batter first so it gets 10 minutes or so to sit, then the dipping sauce so it gets a few minutes for the flavours to meld.  Then last of all, mix in the kale and fry the pakora.

The Batter

Use a whisk or a fork to mix together to a smooth batter like a pancake batter:

  • 1 cup besan (bean flour – from any wholefoods store)
  • two-thirds of a cup water
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • pinch of chili powder or dried chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon grated turmeric (or ½ teaspoon dried)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped coriander, stems and leaves, and if you have them roots as well
  • pinch salt

Let the batter sit, and go on to make the dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Use a food processor or blender to blend together

  • ¾ cup plain yoghurt
  • big handful of coriander leaves
  • big handful of mint leaves
  • pinch salt

Let the dipping sauce sit for the flavours to meld and go on to make the pakora.

Pakora

Heat up a pan with about half an inch (1.5 cm) of oil. You want it medium hot.  I use either avocado oil or light olive oil for frying like this, because they have fairly high smoke points.  Light olive oil is light flavoured, not light fat, and it’s light flavoured because it’s highly refined to remove the aromatics.  But it makes it better for frying because it means it heats to a much higher temperature without producing any unhealthy by-products.  Avocado oil has a very high smoke point, and it’s locally grown in my region, but it is a bit expensive.

Stir into the batter

  • 1½ cups (packed) of kale shredded into 3cm or so pieces.
  • 1 small onion finely diced

Stir so that all the kale is well coated in batter.

Drop dessertspoons full of batter coated kale into the hot oil.  Fry for around 3 minutes each side until they are crisp and golden.  Drain on brown paper.

I serve on a platter as finger food for sharing,  with the dipping sauce and some raw vegetables (cherry tomatoes, snow peas, celery) to dip too.

[relatedPosts]

{ 11 comments }