Monday, January 24, 2011

Spring Rolls

You know how everyone vows to change their lives at the beginning of each year? Eat right, exercise, become awesome? Well, this year I did that too. Part of it was because after spending Christmas at my parents' and being fed more or less constantly (I know, we're southern, so it's a given) I felt goutish. I was watching Planet Earth one night--the penguin episode--and imagined myself waddling like one of those cute penguins but decidedly less cute. Thus, I made some resolutions, being careful not to write them down so I won't be too liable for breaking them.

Then came a pan of New Orleans style bread pudding with whiskey sauce. Few things are more lethal to me than dairy products as those of you who followed this blog while I was on the goat farm might imagine. But a combination of dairy and bread (excuse me, bread soaked in dairy products) is perhaps the most lethal of all. There's something about unrestrained carbs and milk...

As you can imagine, not good news for my tummy. But here we are at the end of January, and I'm making good on some resolutions. I have to admit, it's a relief to be getting so much more roughage.

John and I made a trip to Knoxville the other day, mostly so I wouldn't implode from cabin fever, and we stopped by the food coop. Mint! I love mint, and think it's unfortunate that there are so few preparations that require it. Lamb with mint sauce is fine but a little stodgy if you ask me. And then it occurred to me: spring rolls!

The tricky thing about loving foreign food and living in a small southern town is knowing where to get supplies. Thankfully, Knoxville has a remarkably decent Asian supermarket. You should know that I chose this package of rice wrappers based purely on appearance (and the fact that it was ten cents cheaper than the other brands). The really great thing about Asian supermarkets is that they have superb produce. It's a little limited to Asian greens and select herbs and some strange looking root vegetables, but the quality is excellent, and who doesn't like bok choy?

I had never made spring rolls before, but it turns out to be remarkably simple and fun. All you have to do is dip the rice paper wrappers in water for a few seconds until they soften, place a little mound of veggies in the middle (we used spinach, cilantro, carrot matchsticks, mint, thinly sliced radishes, mung bean sprouts, and Thai basil), and roll them up. The rice paper is nice and sticky so you don't have to worry about the rolls falling apart. As you can see below, the first one (far right) I made is a hog leg, but after that I got better. I coerced John into making a peanut dipping sauce (I'm grooming him to be my saucier), and we ate these babies with miso soup.

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