Spring Rolls and light summer time fare……

It’s been crazy hot and humid in NJ these past several days. I’ve been thinking of some light dinner and lunch options. First up, are fresh Spring Rolls. I made them using left over rotisserie chicken and arugula for a little peppery bite. I just took the chicken and shredded it into a bowl then added about 1 TBS of prepared hoisin sauce. The rice noodles, are soaked in warm water for about 15 minutes then drained and cooked in boiling water for 3 minutes. They are drained again then rinsed in cold water, drained and allowed to cool.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Shredded chicken, rice noodles, arugula, carrots, cucumbers, mint leaves, chinese long pepper, basil leaves, and scallions all cut up and waiting to go into the spring rolls.

Spring rolls are fairly easy to make, you just cut up the ingredients that you want to use, then wrap them in Spring Roll Wrappers. I like to take a dinner plate and put about ½ cup of warm water on the bottom of the plate. I take a dried spring roll wrapper, dip the edge into the water then rotate the wrapper until the entire wrapper has been coated with water. I let the excess water drip off, then I’ll place the damp wrapper on a plate. Place my ingredients in a pile on the edge close to me. Then I’ll roll it once, then fold in the sides and roll to the end of the wrapper. I repeat this process until I”m out of ingredients.

You can also fry the spring roll wrappers. I minced about ¼ lbs of peeled and deveined shrimp, then placed it into a bowl and season with salt and pepper. I added a clove of garlic that was finely minced, a nickel sized, piece of peeled ginger, minced, the white and green of a scallion, 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1 tsp of corn starch. I mixed all the ingredients together and refrigerated for about 30 minutes. Once the shrimp is chilled, wet the spring roll wrappers as above and then fill with 1 TBS of the shrimp filling. Fry at 350ºF in small batches until golden brown. Serve with lettuce leaves and herbs like cilantro, thai basil and mint. They’re also served with cold rice noodle salad.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Shrimp Spring Rolls frying.

Both types of Spring Rolls are traditionally served with Nuoc Cham.

Nuoc Cham
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic mashed
1 thai red chili
3 TBS of Vietnamese Fish Sauce (Nuoc Mam)
½ cup water (I’ve also used coconut soda)
2 TBS of molasses or dark corn syrup

Mix all the ingredients together until the molasses dissolves. You can store this in a container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

And here are the finished spring rolls.

Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls served in lettuce leaves with Nuoc Cham.

Here is Rice Noodle Salad with bbq beef and fried shrimp spring rolls with Nuoc Cham Dressing. The rice noodle salad employs the prep once use twice method. The veggies, herbs and rice noodles were prepped for making the fresh Spring Rolls earlier in the day. The bbq beef is left over from the banh mi sandwiches that we had last night.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls  and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.

Chilled rice noodles are served with an assortment of chopped vegetables, lettuce, herbs, bbq beef, fried shrimp spring rolls
and garnished with dry roasted peanuts.

Roasted Pork Belly Bao with Cucumber Kimchee and Carrot Slaw

Roasted Pork Belly Bao with Carrot Slaw and Cucumber Kimchee

Roasted Pork Belly Bao with Carrot Slaw and Cucumber Kimchee

This sandwich may take first place from the Banh Mi in my Top 10 Best Sandwiches post. There’s a few steps involved in making the bao. But they aren’t particularly complicated and the pay off is worth it. Bao buns are available in the freezer section in most Asian Markets. You can substitute Chili paste like sambal oleek or use red serranos if gochu jang isn’t available in your area.

Quick Cucumber Kimchee
2 to 3 small pickling cucumbers sliced thinly
1 TBS salt
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS fish sauce
1 head of garlic crushed into paste
1 small bunch of scallions chopped
3 TBS Red Pepper Paste (gochu jang)
or Korean Chili Powder (gochu galu)
1 red Chinese Long Pepper or Thai chili

In a large bowl, place the sliced cucumbers and add the salt. Toss the cucumbers so that the salt and sugar is dispersed throughout the cucumber slices and let set for about 30 minutes. In a food processor, add the garlic, scallions, pepper paste, chili and blend into a paste. Set aside a couple tablespoons of the paste to use for the sauce for the pork belly and dressing for the slaw. Drain the liquid from the cucumbers and rinse several times in clean water to rinse off the excess salt and sugar. Add the fish sauce, sugar and chili/garlic mixture. Toss the cucumbers with the chili paste and fish sauce. Put into a container and refrigerate at for at least 2 hours before serving. This hasn’t had an opportunity to ferment like other kimchees, so is probably good for a week max.

Pork Belly
1 LB Pork Belly
1 TBS Five Spice Powder
3 TBS salt
1 tsp white pepper ½ tsp salt
1 Head of garlic split in half
1 cinnamon stick
2 Inch of fresh ginger crushed

Cut the pork belly into 2 inch sections and score the skin. Add the pork belly, cinnamon stick, garlic, ginger and salt to a large stock pot. Fill with water until the pork belly is completely covered. Bring to a boil and let boil for 15 minutes. Drain the pork belly into a colander and allow to dry.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Mix the five spice powder with the white pepper and ½ tsp of salt. Arrange the pork belly in a single layer on a foil line baking sheet (one with sides otherwise you’ll have pork fat all over your oven) and dust with the five spice mixture. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes. Brush the pork belly with the glaze and turn the oven down to 250ºF, cook for 15 minutes and glaze again.

Glaze for the Pork Belly
2 TBS of the garlic chili paste from above
1 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
2 TBS honey
1 TBS Soy Sauce
¼ cup brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside 1 TBS to use for the slaw dressing.

Carrot Scallion Slaw
1 Large Carrot grated
1 scallions shredded
2 TBS Toasted and crushed peanuts
3 or 4 julienned mint leaves
3 or 4 julienned thai basil leaves
Mix together in a bowl and dress.

Dressing
1 TBS of the Pork Belly Glaze
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp lime juice

Whisk together until well incorporated and toss with the slaw.