Life has been zipping by of late: I gave my notice at work, and I'm starting to get my ducks in a row to head to California and start classes at Living Light Culinary Institute on October 1. I have enough money to pay for the Associate Chef Instructor certificate, but if I'm going to fly all the way across the country, leave my job, my dog (temporarily!) and my home to do this, I'm hoping to raise a little more money in the next month so I can do some additional coursework while I'm there. I'm putting together a raw food benefit dinner in the next month, and I'm very excited to post as I perfect the menu for this event. Wish me luck in finding the funds to make the most out of my trip!
When life is busy, I remind myself to amble when I'm walking somewhere, and let myself make little stops; overall just try to take it easy during my transit time. There is a wonderful Asian market in Burlington, Thai Phat. I occasionally stop in and wander around, tempted by all the pretty packaging and labels that don't have English translations on them. Overwhelmed by the packed, colorful shelves I rarely walk out with any purchases. Last week I wandered in out of an attempt to slow myself down on my way home from work, and found myself drawn to the Vietnamese rice paper, and for $1.69 I was excited to head home and try out some almost-raw rolls.
Spring rolls are generally fried. Vietnamese summer rolls are rice wrappers filled with raw veggies and eaten as is. A very bright friend of mine deemed these "Indian Summer Rolls" both for the time of year, and the fact that they don't fit firmly into either previously mentioned category.
Before we get to the recipe, here's a little information about these Vietnamese rice paper wrappers: The wrappers are made of ground, raw rice mixed into a slurry with water. The slurry is then spread on a cloth over a pot of boiling water. After about 30-40 seconds of steaming, the resulting rice paper is set to dry on woven sheets that give the wraps their distinctive basket-weave pattern. If you want to see pictures of this pretty neat process, you can check this out. So, while these wraps aren't raw, they are fun to work with, and I used them to wrap up some delicious raw veggies.
I decided I wanted my rolls to have a filling similar to a traditional cooked spring roll, so I marinated the following in the dehydrator (set to 118) for a few hours before rolling them. (This is what makes them "Indian Summer Rolls"; the filling has the texture of being cooked, but the roll as a whole remains uncooked. )
- 2 mangoes, cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 a head of napa cabbage, shredded
- 3 medium carrots, grated
- 1 kafir lime leaf (remove after marinating)
- 1/2 cup dessicated coconut, ground to a flour in the spice/coffee grinder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3 stalks lemongrass (remove after marinating)
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped fine
- 3 Tbs ume plum vinegar
- 3 Tbs Braggs Aminos (or other soy sauce sort of liquid, whatever you like)
- 1/4 cup orange juice
The rice paper is easy to use. Soak each one for a few seconds in warm water to soften, put what seems like a reasonable amount of filling ( I used about 1/3 of a cup for each, but it was a lot of trial and error.) Folding in each side first, then roll as tight as you can without ripping the paper. I then refrigerated the rolls. I tried them fresh with the warm-from-the-dehydrator filling, but really preferred them cold.
I also made a dipping sauce for the rolls:
- 1 avocado
- 2 dried red chilies, ground
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 tsp kelp granules
I brought these with me to a party, and the next day had friends telling me they wished for more. It's almost my lunch time, and now I wish I had more! I've seen some recipes for raw spring roll wrappers, but I think for now, the convenience of the pre-made rice paper, and the super-healthiness of the filling feel like an acceptable balance to me.
Try these out at home, or try them with one of the suggestions on this message board discussion about raw rice paper alternatives. These are going to be a new favorite of mine, since I can just keep them in the fridge ready to grab whenever. Even my not-so-keen-on-raw-food sister loved these!
Be well and be bright!