Thursday, February 6, 2014

Eating Light

My absolute favorite thing to eat are fresh Vietnamese spring rolls. I never get tired of them. They are light, flavorful and the combination of fillings are endless. The best thing is that they are very low in calories, so you can eat a lot of them. Most of the calories will come from the dipping sauce so I try to use it sparingly and keep the sauce on the lighter side. I love the flavors of fresh mint and basil. I grow my own mint just so I can always have plenty on hand.

I love using fresh lettuce, mint and vegetables cut into thin lengths and marinated in rice vinegar layered together with slices of avocados, shrimp and vermicelli noodles. This is pretty much my go to filling combo. Other ingredients like grilled tofu, marinated fresh carrots, daikon radish, red peppers and mung bean sprouts also work well as fillings.

Todd Porter and Diane Cu's web site, White on Rice Couple , has a fantastic tutorial on how to assemble these spring rolls. There is definitely a learning curve to making these. They’re not hard to make but it does take some practice to properly handle the wrapping. I have all the filling ingredients laid out and ready to go so that the softened wrapper can be assembled and rolled quickly. It’s important not to overfill the wrapper. It takes practice to know how much of the filling to layer so that it will roll up neatly.
I use the Three Ladies Brand of rice wrapper because it tends to hold up better and not tear as easily as some of the other brands. For the dipping sauce, I use a light combination of hoisin sauce, (or tamari), mixed with some sweet chili sauce. Peanut dipping sauce is also good. Rice vinegar mixed with a little tamari is very light and good also.

The only drawback for these rolls is that they do not store well at all. They have to be made fresh and eaten within a 3-5 hours. It’s not the thing to make ahead and store in the refrigerator. In fact getting the wrapper cold drastically changes its composition. It becomes tough, rubbery and basically inedible. They are best eaten fresh... right after being made.


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