Yesterday was my first day of spring break. Usually I’m pretty oblivious to the whole “seasons” concept–I live in San Diego, where the weather is essentially 70 degrees and sunny year round–but I couldn’t help but notice how much it really feels like spring. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been trapped in a somewhat grungy urban environment for so long, but something about the rustling leaves, the chorus of chirping birds, and the lizard couples darting around my backyard was oddly intoxicating.
I was originally planning to make a coconut butternut squash soup for dinner, but decided it had to be put off for another day because it simply wasn’t spring-y enough. I’d been craving spring rolls for awhile–I’d never before worked with rice paper–and the name made it a painfully obvious choice to end the day. I also decided I wanted to come up with my own recipe by winging it, and tweaking things until it tasted best! (It actually works a surprisingly large percentage of the time.)
It was also my first time using frozen tofu: when I left San Diego after winter break, I had an unopened package of tofu in the fridge. Instead of throwing it away, I just stuck the whole thing in the freezer so it’d be there for spring break. Thawing it out from the big cube of ice and tofu was an odd experience, however, so if you ever plan to freeze your tofu, I suggest preparing it first by squeezing out the water and storing it in a freezer bag!
Anyways, back to the rolls: they were even more suited to my tastes than the ones I’ve had at restaurants, largely because I marinated the tofu for a bit. They were like an insanely flavorful salad, but all nicely wrapped up in the delightfully chewy rice paper–if spring had a taste, I’d imagine it’d be similar to these!
Also, don’t let the ingredient list scare you away: the last 2 parts use most of the same ingredients! In fact, I just used the leftover marinade in the peanut sauce.
Makes ~4 rolls.
Time: about 30 minutes
These amounts are estimates, so change things up depending on your tastes/what you have on hand!
For the rolls:
- 4 or 8 sheets of 8.5″ (22cm) rice paper, depending on how thin they are. (Mine were thin, so I had to double them up)
- 1/2 cup cubed or about 4″x 1/2″ x 1/2″ extra firm tofu, with water pressed out
- 1/2 cup carrots, julienned
- 1/2 cup cucumber, julienned
- 1/2 cup kale, steamed or boiled until tender
- 2/3 cup bean threads or vermicelli noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup basil, sliced
- 1/4 cup mint, sliced
For the marinade:
- 2 tbs soy sauce, low sodium
- 1 tbs rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp chopped fresh ginger (or sub ginger powder)
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
For the peanut sauce:
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 1/6 cup water
- Splash rice vinegar
- Splash soy sauce (For this and the vinegar, you can instead just use any marinade that the tofu didn’t soak up)
- Dash powdered ginger (or sub finely minced fresh ginger)
- Dash powdered garlic (or sub finely minced fresh garlic)
- Pan-fry the tofu, preferably without oil, until golden on both sides. While they’re frying, prepare the marinade in a medium sized bowl by mixing the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Pour in the cooked tofu, and stir occasionally so it absorbs the marinade evenly.
- Fill a pan the size of your rice paper with about an inch of water. Set over low heat, until water is just barely steaming. Turn off the heat.
- Dip a sheet of rice paper into the water and hold it under for 5 seconds (depending on the directions on your package), then carefully set on a plate, ensuring it doesn’t fold over itself. If you’re doubling the rice paper (recommended), then prepare another sheet, and lay it directly on top of the first sheet, aligning the edges as well as you can.
- Lay 1/4 of each of the fillings in a line in the center, leaving at least 1.5″ margins at the ends of the rice paper. I recommend doing a single line/layer each of the basil, cilantro, and mint, as adding too much could be overpowering.
- Fold it together: first, fold an edge of the rice paper parallel to the filling line as tightly as you can over the filling. Then, fold in the short ends so they stick to the part you just folded over. Then, roll towards the last remaining edge (across from the side you started on). Unfortunately I have yet to get photos of the process, but here is a great guide to one method!
- Prepare the dipping sauce: combine peanut butter and water over low heat, or in the microwave for 20 second bursts. Heat until melted and combined, then add in ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar.
- Cut rolls in half and serve with dipping sauce.
And taste the spring!
Thanks for stopping by,