The last weeks were busy weeks. One thing I did was a lunch catering for a photo shoot two days in a row. It was an enjoyable experience and the good feedback from the clients was most rewarding. It was a food related photo shoot and I was rather fascinated by how complicated and time consuming taking a photo of just one piece of food can be and the amount of equipment it required. There was a food stylist involved who made the product look its very best for every single shoot. It was a wonderful and inspirational experience for me! This is also why I chose to write this post sharing my excitement with you.
The lunch menu for the first day consisted of Summer Roll – with soy marinated vegetables (recipe below), Worcestershire Beef Sarnie (from Jamie Oliver’s recipe) and Matcha Chiffon Cake (see a similar version here). The menu was requested by my clients as I had done these dishes for previous catering of theirs before, and I was more than happy to cook a menu that I am very familiar with. The second day menu was Thai Noodle Salad with beef, Stay Chicken Sandwich and Fig Tarts (you can see the recipe here and the pictures on Intragram). On the second day, I got to enjoy the food together with the clients and I was very flattered about the good feedback for both menus. It was absolutely a lovely ending for two days of hard work! 🙂
Since the Summer Roll has been a favorite of many, I would like to share the recipe here with you. It was already featured at Kleinstyle, a German blog I contributed to some time ago). Before we move on to this particular recipe, I would like to make a few notes here: Summer Roll is one of the most popular dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. Traditional summer rolls consist of rice noodle, salad leaves, various veggies with chicken, tofu or prawn as filling and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce (Nước mắm pya). There are many different versions of Summer Roll, so just experiment with a few varieties and find the one you like – being really creative is the key!!
My version is inspired by one of my favorite websites (101 Cookbooks – Wintery spring rolls). I love the idea of using onion paste to intensify the flavor. It is not as overpowering as one may imagine – just the perfect match for the otherwise bland rice paper. In addition, I use slightly different ingredients for the fillings and as I do not serve it with a dipping sauce, I add soy-based marinade to the vegetables to give the whole dish a more solid flavor.
(makes about 12 rolls)
For the summer rolls:
- 12 (or more) pieces Rice paper
- 160g Extra firm tofu, cut into 4 thick slices
- 150g Oyster mushroom (or other mushroom such as Shiitaki or chestnut), finely chopped
- 150g Baby spinach
- 1 small bunch of Coriander, leaves only (optional)
- 60g Rice vermicelli
For the soy based marinade:
- 50ml Soy sauce
- 50ml Mirin
- 3 tsp. brown sugar
For the onion paste:
- 1 Shallot, finely sliced
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 tbsp. Grated peeled ginger
- Pinch of salt
- 60ml Vegetable oil
Start with the onion paste: chop the shallots and spring onions together until fine. Add the grated ginger and salt, mix well and set aside. Heat a non-stick pan with vegetable oil until hot. Tip in the onion ginger mixture in the oil, quickly combine and then immediately remove it from heat (you don’t want to fry them), transfer the mixture to a bowl or glass container to cool. Drain the oil and set the onion ginger mixture aside. Reserve the oil for later.
For the soy-based marinade combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, and then gently simmer for about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the rice vermicelli: Soak the vermicelli in boiling water for about 5 minutes (or soak according to the package instruction), drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water to stop it cooking. Prepare a large plate or platter, then in batches, squeeze the excess water out of the noodles and then spread them on the plate, this way, the noodles will retain its texture and won’t stick together. Set aside.
To cook the tofu and mushroom: Fry the tofu with a little oil (from the onion paste) in a single layer on a non-stick pan until golden brown, cooled then cut into strips, set aside. Fry the mushrooms with a little oil (from the onion paste) until all water is released and the mushroom takes on a nice brown color. Set aside.
Blanch the baby spinach in salted boiling water for ½ minute (no more) then rinse under cold running water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water and chop roughly. If you prefer, you can skip this step and just add in raw spinach in the rolls.
So now you are ready to dress some ingredients (apart from spinach) with the soy marinade. Add in just enough marinade to coat the noodles, mushroom and tofu (each separately). Let them marinate for at least 10 minutes.
To assemble the rolls: Prepare a bowl (larger than the rice paper) with warm water, dip the rice paper in for about 15-20 second, remove and put it on a plate or a flat working surface (the rice paper will keep absorbing water while you are assemble it, so don’t leave it too long in the water!).
Smear the onion paste generously on the middle part of the rice paper (leave edge on the sides, see picture), and then add few of each: tofu, mushroom, coriander, spinach and noodles. Now fold the right and left side of the rice paper toward the middle and then fold the bottom side up. Now roll with the ingredients up, until a ‘roll’ has formed. Depending on how much filling you put in each roll, the sizes of the rolls will vary. To prevent the finished rolls from drying out, use a cling film with a damp kitchen towel on top to cover the rolls while you are making the rest. Best served within one hour.