Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fresh Spring Rolls, or Anything But Salad

At our CSA farm, it's the season for Chinese cabbage. Apparently this crop does well in their soil and microclimate, because I seem to remember getting HUGE heads in the past and this year is no different.

Chinese cabbage is good in stir fries (too hot) or salads (getting a bit boring, working our way through the 2nd large head). I even managed to distribute some of it to my daughter's preschool class, doing a visiting "show and tell" where we guessed all the vegetables in the CSA box, and passed things around to touch, smell, and observe. It was a big hit at snacktime that morning! But we still have plenty left.

So today I remembered another hot-weather meal that's great for cabbage and for a hot day - fresh spring rolls. These are the kind you might have tried at a Vietnamese restaurant, in a translucent wrapper with lots of fresh vegetables and perhaps some shrimp or chicken inside, a few mint or basil leaves, and a dipping sauce or two.

You'll probably need to go to an Asian supermarket to get the rice paper wrappers, but it's well worth it for a hot weather meal that can be adapted to anyone's tastes and requires little to no cooking. The wrappers look like this:

To cook them, you can just microwave some water until it's hot but not too hot to stick your hands in, and pour into a shallow bowl. You dip one wrapper in until it feels soft, then carefully pull it out and spread on a plate.

Then, for fillings, you'll want shredded cabbage, maybe some slices of leftover meat or some little sticks of tofu, shredded carrot or thinly sliced scallion, cucumber, anything that strikes your fancy! We used some leftover deli turkey, scallions, and quick sauteed matchtsticks of zucchini and hakurei turnip as well as the cabbage.

The dipping sauces are something else you might find at the Asian Market or you can mix up yourself: vinegar and sugar and fish sauce, black bean paste and vinegar, peanut butter thinned out with water and vinegar, etc.

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