CONTRIBUTED BY LARISSA TRAQUAIR
My friend, Jana, likes to recreate her favorite restaurant foods at home. She does this so she will be able to enjoy her favorites when she moves back to the states. She showed me recently how to make one of her newer discoveries – fresh spring rolls. She likes making these at home because of the flavors, the smell of fresh herbs and they are healthy.
Jana got her Spring Roll recipe from the book Real Thai – The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking by Nancie McDermott. The Vietnamese name for them is Goi Cuon – a hearty noodle salad wrapped in rice paper. What I found most fascinating is the the main ingredient in this “wrap” is tapioca. As Jana mentions below she was able to find this “hearty noodle” or rice paper at the commissary.
The large, cracker textured rice paper must be submerged into hot water for 5 seconds to soften it up.
After softening this wrap you just lay it directly on your counter and start filling it with fresh ingredients. This is the really fun part and Jana’s son even likes to help make them and eat them. Fun food is the best food to make.
Here are all the ingredients for the perfect spring roll.
The Thai serve their rolls with the same sweet-sour dipping sauce that accompanies Fried Spring Rolls. The author of the cook book prefers how many Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S. serve them – with hoisin sauce sprinkled with ground peanuts and spiked with fiery Vietnamese chili sauce called tuong ot toi.
Since we were already in Jana’s kitchen I thought I’d ask her a few food relate questions!!!
Do you like to cook and why? I do like to cook because my husband gets great enjoyment out of eating and so do I. We like our mealtime to be relaxing, enjoyable and it’s our family time. We really want to savor our meals – it’s not just a time to eat and rush off to the next thing. I think I acquired this after living in Europe. It’s the European way – their pace of life is slower and you were never rushed at any restaurant.
What is your favorite meal to cook? I like to look through my cookbooks and cooking magazines and try new recipes. The weirdest thing I have cooked was a pumpkin pasta dish that was served in a pumpkin and my husband actually liked it.
What is your favorite ingredient to cook with? I like to use fresh herbs and spices because I love the aroma that they give off while I’m cutting them. If I had to pick one favorite ingredient I would say it’s fresh cilantro.
Where do you buy your unique ingredients? For this particular recipe I was able to find all the ingredients at the commissary. Though, A-Price is a great place to buy bulk-size spices that you may not find at the commissary.
Advice for a cook just getting started: Don’t make a new recipe for a house full of guests. And, open up a cook book and choose a recipe that sounds yummy and try it.