Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Successes and Failures

In my pursuit of showing off the birthday sushi dishes (look at the pretty swirly designs on the close up of the sauce below) I mentioned in my previous post, I tried my hand at two recipes. One was a disaster only in adeptness of fingers because it tasted so good. But the other was a disaster because, in my opinion, it was a waste of precious sushi rice even if it made for a pretty and colourful picture.

The first recipe was my adaptation of an Emeril recipe for Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce. I read the list of ingredients for what I did have and I looked at the basic way to throw it together. That's about it. Here's what I created (and Ben loved):

Nerissa's Spring Rolls

1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp peanut oil
12 - 16 boiled shrimp
1 1/2 cups cooked rice vermicelli
1/4 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 cup thinly shredded romaine lettuce
4 rice paper wrapper (discs)

Mix together the first six ingredients. In a pan, over medium-low heat, simmer the prawns in mixture. Turn every few minutes for even flavouring. Remove from heat after about 10 minutes and allow to cool 5 minutes.

Assemble the rolls 1 at a time: Dip 1 spring roll wrapper in a large bowl of lukewarm water and quickly transfer to a clean kitchen towel (Wrapper softens in seconds). Lay three or four shrimp in a horizontal line across the lower third of the rice wrapper. Top with a 1/4 cup of well-drained cooked rice vermicelli. Top the vermicelli with slices of cucumber and shredded carrot. Place 2 tablespoons of shredded romaine on top of cucumbers. Carefully pull the lower edge of the wrapper up and over the filling. Fold the two sides inward over the filling. Work carefully to not tear the wrapper. Once both sides are folded inward over the filling, roll the spring roll upward wo the filling is tightly contained and roll up to seal. Set aside roll on a plate and repeat with other wrappers. You could serve them immediately or chilled with Peanut Sauce on the side for dipping.

Peanut sauce:

1/2 tbsp peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp chili paste
1/2 tablespoon ketchup
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp chicken stock (or water)
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tbsp peanut butter
3 tbsp hoisin sauce
Chile oil (optional) to taste

Mix all ingredients, blending very well. Serve with spring rolls.

There were a lot of things I didn't include from the original because I didn't have it on hand but it still tasted good. Other ingredients that were listed were Thai basil, mint, marinated pork... etc. But honestly if you want a good, straight-foward meal for a fussy eater, my version may do the trick.

My first attempt at using rice paper wrappers was pathetic at best. My fingers fumbled their way through four in more time than I'd like to admit. My BIG piece of advice: Work FAST! Slowness make the fumbles worse because the paper becomes even more floppy.

The Disaster of the night:

I tried making something called Country Style Sushi Salad which is basically cooked sushi rice with sushi-like ingredients mixed in. It turned into an unappealing mixture of flavours. Enjoy the picture but don't ask for the recipe. Please, for the sake of humanity, don't!


s'kat said...

I just love summer rolls! You really can't go wrong, whatever you end up putting in there.

Boo-hiss on the sushi salad!

michelle said...

Those rice papers ARE a bitch! I had the same experience when we tried to make spring rolls for a dinner party! I somehow missed your lasagna rolls post yesterday, but I'm so glad to see your family recipe and now I'm going to have to try it too. And HAPPY 33rd, my friend!!! I'm so glad you had a wonderful birthday with friends and that you got some very (beautiful and) cool (kitchen) goodies!! Plus, a margarita like that is a good way to enrich any birthday!

Nerissa said...

s'kat: Even though I fell madly in love with these rolls when I regularly got them from the university cafeteria, I never really ate a single one again until last night! Now I think I was a dork for leaving it so long (read 10 years)
I too say Boo-hiss to the sushi salad. I waited to see if it was better cold. HA! The ginger got even worse!

Michelle: Indeed they are! Thank god I tried them with only Ben and myself as witnesses. I will persevere.
Hope you enjoy the lasagna roll-ups!
Thanks, I did have a pretty good birthday and yes, margaritas are a great way to enrich the day ;)

Cyndi said...

The peanut sauce looks like something I'll like. I'll give it a try!

Nerissa said...

cyndi: I think the peanut sauce is a great match for starch-heavy oriental foods like rice. Quite yummy.