Saturday, March 22, 2008

Vietnamese Summer Rolls and (Chickenless) Asian Salad

These are great to make when you've got an extra hand for slicin' and dicin'. The Monster was up to the task, so off we went. They take a little practice to roll, but you'll get the hang of it by about the second to last one. ;-) Good news is they'll taste really great no matter what. My first one tonight was the prettiest one of rolling skills seemed to go downhill with each successive spring roll. This recipe for Vietnamese Summer Rolls comes from Jaden at Steamy Kitchen. The sauce is delicious, and it's highly tweakable. I added the juice of one lime, used agave nectar in place of the sugar, and added more garlic chili sauce for extra heat. I also found that it needed to be thinned with more water than called for. You might look for the cashew butter in the bulk section of your grocery store instead of buying a whole jar of it. If you don't feel up to making the rolls, the sauce is still a winner that would be awesome tossed simply with cooked Chinese egg noodles, quick sauteed green onions and cilantro.

I served the rolls with an Asian chicken salad we like sans chicken. :-) If you'd like to make a meal of just that, you can add the diced meat of two roasted chicken breasts, or cubed extra firm tofu. The original recipe comes from The World's Healthiest Foods recipe file.

Asian Chicken Salad:

5+ cups Chinese cabbage, sliced thin (I add more veggies since I think the recipe calls for a little too much chicken)
2 boneless chicken breasts, skin on and bone in
~ 1 cup shredded carrot
~1/4 cup minced scallion
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds or instead, I use this great stuff by Eden Organic called Seaweed Gomasio that I'm sure you could find at Whole Foods. The original recipe called for hijiki seaweed, but I found out online that it has really high amounts of inorganic arsenic in it!! It's great on stir-fries too.)

Optional (I added these because I had the ingredients from making the spring rolls and thought they'd be tasty in the salad too):
2-3 Tbs chopped fresh mint
~ 2-3 tsp. lemongrass, grated on a microplane.

2 TBS extra olive oil
2 TBS soy sauce (I used a little less)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 TBS agave nectar, or honey
pinch red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste (I don't add much salt, since the gomasio has sea salt in it)

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Place chicken breasts on baking sheet covered with foil. Spray or rub with canola oil, then salt and pepper generously.
3. Bake until ~35-40 min., or until a meat thermometer reads 170. When done and cool enough to touch, remove skin, and cut into bite size pieces.
4. Thinly slice head of cabbage, and shred carrot. Carrot is easily shredded in a food processor with shredding blade. Otherwise you can shred it by hand, or slice thin. Chop cilantro and scallion and add to, cabbage and carrot.
5. Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Toss with cabbage mixture and chicken. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or Eden Organic seaweed gomasio which has lots of toasted sesame seeds in it. I add the almonds to each individual serving, so that if there are leftovers they don't get all soggy in the dressing.

Serves 4

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