I hope I never lose my sense of wonder. If that makes me naive, then so be it.

Monday, 30 July 2012

miscellany: rice paper wraps

I make not even the remotest, tiniest claim that I know much about cooking Asian-inspired food. I love to eat it, but I have not researched or practiced it enough. But, I love making rice paper wraps. Easy, delicious and welcomely cool on a hot day, and they even look nice (yes, welcomely is not a word. But it makes sense, doesn't it?). 

They also make it look like I know what I'm doing, which is another plus.

So, everything was assembled: thinly sliced pork (left over from the weekend), badly julienned celery and carrots (because they were the veggies in the crisper drawer) and spinach (because I always try to have some of that on hand), and rice noodles that I cooked, then ran under cold water and tossed with a little oil. 

You also need these: rice paper wraps. They look a little like doilies. And feel like plastic. But they are made from rice and entirely edible - after soaking in water for a couple of minutes, they get soft and ready to use. I blot the wraps as otherwise they don't stick to themselves as they roll, and fall apart.

Everything gets layered. One nice thing is, the wraps are translucent so some of the colour comes through. Pretty!

Then it all rolls up, which can be tricky, but if they're soaked and blotted right they seem to stick to themselves and make a nice tidy roll. I basically put all the filling at the edge of the circle nearest to me, roll forward (away from me) until the filling is just enclosed. Then I fold each side end over the centre to close up the ends. Continue rolling forward to finish it off.

Next step is to try not to eat them all, but dutifully put them in the fridge under plastic wrap til supper time. 

Okay, I ate one. Quality control and all that.

Sliced in half to serve, you can see all the yummyness inside. We like them with a peanut sauce that follows a careful recipe called "what's in the fridge?". This is where having an eccentric pantry comes in handy. This sauce was peanut butter, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, Vietnamese hot pepper sauce. And, I think that's all. Oh, and sesame oil. The proportions of each ingredient were what I remembered worked and how I adjusted it after tasting. In other words, THIS SAUCE WILL NEVER EXIST QUITE THIS WAY AGAIN. Too bad, because it was delicious.

I'm reading As Always, Julia right now - Julia Child's letters to Avis deVoto in the years as she wrote her first cookbook. Now there's a woman who was devoted to precision, testing and retesting, and getting the recipe just right. While I love to follow those recipes, I am not someone who I think could make them. 

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