Another month has flown by which means it’s time for a Secret Recipe Club posting. The club is a fun community of food bloggers who are assigned one another’s blogs—in secret, of course; and we select a fellow SRC member’s recipe to make and post on our own blogs. We synchronize posting our chosen recipes on what is called “Reveal Day” when we find out who was assigned whose blogs and what they chose to make.
I always have great fun browsing through a site that’s new to me—especially when the blogger has been posting for several years. This month, I had the good fortune to be assigned Sally’s Bewitching Kitchen, a virtual treasure trove of recipes with many of them new to me. Sally was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and, additionally, has lived for several years in California and Paris. Her eclectic recipes reflect her diverse living experiences in the most wonderful way!
In addition, I was fascinated to learn that Sally has a doctorate in biochemistry and works on the genetic instability and antibiotic resistance of bacteria. Among the bacteria she studies is e. coli. With her background as a researcher, I can just imagine her scientific approach to her activities in the kitchen! My husband, too, is a scientist although in a totally different field. Whenever he cooks, he says that he views our kitchen as just another laboratory.
I highly recommend that you read the “Science” tab on Sally’s blog. I believe most of you will find it as interesting as I did. Sally and I share the same opinion on the way the food industry treats our food supply.
But back to Sally’s recipes…I had the most difficult time I’ve ever had trying to narrow down just one recipe to make. She has so many Brazilian recipes I’m looking forward to making including a Brazilian take on a Portuguese classic, “canja de galinha” (chicken soup), Brazilian cheese bread, Brazilian cornmeal cake, Brazilian black beans, and Brigadeiros (a Brazilian dessert). Shrimp Moqueca was also very tempting, and I hope to make it soon.
My head was swimming with all these enticing Brazilian recipes—but, then, I spotted a recipe which has been on my bucket list for a very long time and this month’s search was over. A few years ago, a friend introduced me to Vietnamese spring rolls and I immediately became a fan. It is impossible to overstate how light, fresh, and healthy these rolls are—not to mention how tasty! When you finish eating, both your taste buds and your digestive system say, “thanks—that was a great meal.”
The only reason I hadn’t made these spring rolls before was that my regular supermarkets didn’t carry the necessary rice paper rolls. I was able to finally track some down and happily made a batch of spring rolls for Roger and me. When Roger saw what I had made for our dinner, he said, “OK, I see the appetizers but where is the entrée?” I’m happy to report that he ate his two spring rolls and was quite satisfied and actually went without his regular nighttime snack.
One year ago: Baked Chicken and Spinach Flautas
Two years ago: Tiramisu
Vietnamese-style Spring Rolls
- 4 rice paper rounds
- 1 oz. dry bean threads or rice vermicelli
- Cooked shrimp, cut in half lengthwise
- Carrots, cut in long julienne strips
- Cucumbers, cut in long matchstick pieces
- Lettuce, cut in strips
- Cilantro leaves
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce
- 6 tbl. soy sauce
- 2 tbl. water
- 2 tbl. rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbl. brown sugar
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
Cut the vegetables, cook the shrimp, and have everything ready to use on your kitchen counter. Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing well all its ingredients.
Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package (they vary according to type). Rinse them in cold water and set aside (you can add a tiny bit of sesame oil or olive oil to prevent them from sticking, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you rinse them well).
Fill a bowl large enough to hold the rice paper with very warm water. Open a damp cloth over your work surface. Soak the rice paper in the warm water until it is soft and pliable. Carefully lift it and place it over the damp cloth. Line your ingredients, starting with the cut shrimp, then the noodles, veggies, herbs. Add 1/2 tsp. of dipping sauce (or just a few sprinkles of soy sauce) to the filling, and roll the paper around them. Repeat with the remaining rice papers. To serve, cut each roll at an angle and serve with a small bowl of dipping sauce.
- I am including Sally’s link to a quick tutorial on how to prepare these delicious spring rolls.
- As a guideline to quantities, I made my rolls with 5 shrimp halves (2 1/2 whole, cut in half), 4 long strips each of julienned carrots and cucumbers, 3 strips of lettuce, and a long stem of cilantro. The number of strips you use will depend on how large you have cut them. I cooked 1 ounce of the rice vermicelli and divided it into four equal portions. Be careful not to overstuff the rolls or you won’t be able to wrap them properly.
- After tearing holes in the first two rice paper rolls, I found that it was easier to soak the papers one at a time (they soften quickly). The rice paper is easier to handle before they get too soft.
- As Sally noted in her original post, while the rolls lend themselves to improvising, avoid using too many different types of veggies and stick to one type of meat. The rolls are supposed to be delicate, fresh, and light—and they really are!