Sunday, January 17, 2010

Summer in Snow

Today's predicted "late afternoon rain" is turning out to be thick, wet, snowfall. Some days you have to pretend: sweat it out in the steam room at the gym imagining you're in the tropics, or wear too few clothes while sitting close to the wood stove and eating summery foods. Let's think warm thoughts, shall we?

Here are some warm places I go back to in my head: making friends with a sweet dog in Buenos Aires, Argentina; driving to a faraway beach outside Recife, Brazil; checking out purple prickly pear cacti while wandering around San Xavier Mission outside Tucson, Arizona. All this mind travel is helped by eating one of my favorite summer foods, summer rolls.

Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce

There's not really a real recipe for the rolls, but I'll tell you my favorite things to wrap up in rice wrappers:
  • rice sticks - Make sure not to get bean thread, cuz it's a bit slimy. The rice sticks give the roll good texture.
  • matchstick carrots
  • matchstick red pepper
  • matchstick cucumbers
  • matchstick scallions
  • fresh mint leaves
  • shaved fresh ginger
  • crunchy lettuce leaves
Cook the rice sticks according to the instrucs on the package (not very long). Drain. Don't worry about making extra—you can always eat them on top of salad with sesame dressing. Ditto for any extra chopped veggies.

Heat up a large frying pan of water, then turn off the fire. Soak a wrapper in the warm water until pliable (also not very long). Drain. On a cutting board or clean surface, put in some of each herb and veggie and a little portion of rice stick & roll up like a burrito. I like to put the colorful stuff on the outside, to show through the skin. I put a couple colorful pieces down first, then a lettuce leaf which will cradle and contain the rest of the ingredients, making it easier to roll. Your first few will look wonky, but you'll get the hang of it! Pretty soon you'll be dazzling your friends at parties, preferably parties on a beach or near a campfire.

There are zillions of variations on these rolls. I particularly like the scallion/ginger/mint interaction, but if you've got cilantro, go with that, get rid of the mint and ginger, pump up the scallion and red pepper, and include avocado or a little bit of spicy guacamole. A lot of people put in baked tofu or replace the lettuce with spinach. You get the drill: take what you've got and put in a rice wrapper!

Here's the sauce, which there is a recipe for:
  • 1/4 c soy sauce
  • 1/8 c brown rice vinegar
  • 1/3 c warm water
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 2/3 c chunky peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or more to taste
Use the warm water to soften and blend the peanut butter. Once blended add other ingredients. Best at room temperature.

1 comment:

  1. I just made these 2 nights Hawaii...with fresh garden veggies. Sorry!! I also do the trick of putting the pretty things on the outside--nasturtiums are my favorite. Yours are RIDICULOUSLY GORGEOUS!