Friday, February 22, 2008

The Perfect Peanut Sauce

I have been trying to find the perfect peanut sauce for quite a while, and recently with the help of a few different recipes I happily have discovered the magic combination! Along with the peanut sauce I wanted to share one of my favorite appetizers, salad rolls. They are fresh, healthy and make a great start to a meal or a light meal itself.

Peanut Sauce (makes about 1 cup of sauce)

2 TBS finely chopped shallots
2 TBS finely chopped lemongrass
2 TBS finely chopped garlic
2 TBS finely chopped ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 TBS brown sugar
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS lime juice
salt and pepper as needed

Over low heat, saute the shallots, lemongrass, garlic, and ginger in the sesame oil until very soft. Add the rest of the ingredients(except the lime juice)and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and strain and add up lime juice. Check for seasoning and chill.

Salad Rolls are basically a variety of ingredients rolled up in rice paper. There are a few ingredients commonly found in them (rice noodles, cilantro, mint, raw vegetables) but beyond that you can use your imagination to suite your tastes. The following is just a suggestion of what to include (as you can see below in my preparatory picture I kept these vegetarian. I have included in my recipe what I used in these particular rolls, but you can substitute whatever you like. The most important part is to make sure that everything is uniform and thin. These don't keep very well, the rice paper starts to harden. You can have everything ready and well wrapped up to a day in advance and plan on rolling them up to 2 hours ahead of time

Salad Rolls (for 8 salad rolls)
Rice paper (at least 9 sheets- so if one is broken you have an extra)
rice noodles (vermicelli) or bean threads softened in boiling water (about 2 cups re hydrated)
chopped mint (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
chopped cilantro (about 1/4 - 1/2 cup)
julienned carrots (about 1 medium size)
julienned jicima (about 1/2 of 1 small one)
julienned cucumber (about 1/2 of 1 small one)

ideas of optional ingredients
pork, chicken, or turkey thinly sliced
shrimp, cut in half
lettuce, shredded
mango or pineapple, julienned
sauteed shitake mushrooms
bean sprouts

You want to make sure before you start rolling the rolls, you have everything ready to go and within reach of your work station. You want to get a large bowl (one that you can easily dip the rice paper into and cover with water) with very warm water. On a clean flat surface you'll need something to help dry the rice paper as it comes out of the water. I like to use a cotton cloth and lay it on my work station and then gently lay the rice paper on it and build my roll directly on the cloth. You could also use a sturdy paper towel. Place the rice paper in the water until soft and pliable. Gently lift out (and put another rice paper in to soak) and lay flat on your work surface. Make sure excess water is removed from the rice paper. At one end make a small pile of your ingredients. It is important you don't have so much filling that it will be hard to roll up the paper. It also needs to be evenly spread over the length of the roll. The width of the final amount of ingredients should be no larger than about a quarter, and the length, no longer than about 3 inches. Then begin to, as tightly as possible, roll up the ingredients. Before you roll the last 1/3 of the roll you want to fold both sides in and finish rolling up. This part will take some practice, the hardest part is getting the roll tight and smooth. It's the same as rolling up a burrito. You have to be careful not to tear the rice paper, but as long as it's not too wet, there shouldn't be a problem with it sticking to itself to seal the roll. After you are done rolling all the rolls cut the rolls in half to serve. If made in advance (no longer than 2 hours) cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Serve with peanut sauce.

*The left over filling can either be made into more rolls the next day or they also make a great base for a salad using leftover sauce as dressing


Gretchen Noelle said...

I love peanut sauces! I don't know if I can find rice paper here, but I love this idea. Also Emma, I tagged you for a meme!

Anonymous said...

Emma brought these over to my house a few weeks ago, they are the best! I cant wait to make them myself...we will see how that goes!!


bkt said...

the perfect peanut sauce indeed! i haven't tasted such flavorful sauce in any restaurant! thanks so much for posting!