This might sound strange, with me dedicating a lot of time to a food blog, but at times I find myself stuck in a food-rut, you know where you end up eating the same things over and over again? Where making a few changes in your diet to make it more interesting appears to be so overwhelming? Maybe I am on my own with this food-rut feeling, but I do think the best way to get out it to make something somewhat out of the ordinary, finding more inspiration from food again. Making my pavlova and these Vietnamese rolls catapulted me out of this little rut last weekend. Something that is key for me is flexibility. Flexibility in cooking makes life much more simple. Granted, these Vietnamese rolls do require at least two essential ingredients (rice paper and vermicelli noodles), the rest is really left up to you! My recipe is still very much Asian inspired but this does not mean you have to follow protocol, you can still experiment with different cultural flavours if you would like. Adding tofu, shrimp or temph are additional options as well. For me, these rolls are the perfect summer appetizer or light lunch.
So if you ever find yourself in a food-rut maybe you give my strategy a try, cook or bake something a bit our of the ordinary! Maybe it will be these Vietnamese rolls...
4 tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of sesame oil and water
1 teaspoon chili paste and hoisin sauce
4 splashes of fish sauce
1/2 lime juiced
1 clove of garlic
14 pieces of rice paper
2 cups vermicelli noodles (cooked)
4 cups mixed greens
3/4 bell pepper
1/4 cup of herb(s) of your choice: cilantro, mint and/or basil
Siracha hot sauce and Hoisin sauce for dressing
First make your peanut sauce. Finely mince the garlic and place this is a bowl, followed by all the other peanut sauce ingredients. Mix and leave the sauce to rest while you being preparing your rolls.
Mise en plat...The key to making vietnamese rolls is to have everything in place before you begin. First boil water to cook your vermicelli noodles, sit them to the side to let them soak (they do not need to be boiled, just simply placed in boiling water). Drain the noodles once they are soft. Next, julienne the carrot, cucumber, bell pepper and avocado. If you are not sure how to julienne your veggies check out this how-to video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YU1IBLypo0) they end up looking like match sticks. Next, mInce your herbs of choice.
Line all your prepped ingredients in a row on your counter, ensuring there is space for rolling up the rice paper (I do this on a cutting board). Obtain a plate or a very shallow and wide bowl, fill this with about a centimeter of hot water, this will be used for soaking your rice paper in. Now you are set...
Take your first piece of rice paper and swirl it gently around the plate/shallow bowl, submerging all parts of the rice paper until it becomes soft (this will take 20-30 seconds). Once the rice paper has been hydrated, carefully flatten the rice paper onto a clean surface (it tears easily). Now, fill the rice paper with your contents (the herbs, carrot, cucumber, pepper, avocado, noodles, sauces and lettuce). Carefully roll the rice paper (like you would a wrap) folding in both ends as you roll. Repeat this until you have reached your desired number of rolls or you have run out of ingredients. Cut each roll in half and enjoy!