Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spring Rolls

Too Much Pork

Last night we enjoyed a small roast for dinner, just the two of us, facing a succulent three-pound loin of pork. Slow cooked at low temp, spice rubbed, sliced thin and served with warmed chipotle raspberry sauce; OMG it was tasty. But today almost all of that roast remains, plastic-wrapped in the fridge, awaiting its next appearance.

What was I thinking, making a roast for only two diners? And now what do I do with all that pork?
       * divide, freeze, wait for inspiration
       * crostini with creamy cheese, chutney & pecans
       * smother slices or shreds in barbecue sauce
       * crisp it for tacos
       * sauce it for enchiladas
       * add chunks or slivers to a stir-fry
       * heat with sauerkraut, onions, apples, sour cream
       * use it in a curry
       * put it in soup
       * top a salad
       * wrap it in something

It seemed like too much work to start the generator and actually cook. My lazy solution was to just assemble instead. Thai Spring Rolls were the result, and then Spring Roll Salad followed with the extra bits. (Hilary, I missed your nimble fingers helping out on this batch.) 

Chopping and assembling don’t count as real cooking. There’s no recipe and you hardly need to concentrate, both good things since I spent a lot of time gazing out the galley windows while prepping. Skiffs putted by, diving birds popped up and down, the occasional eagle and heron swooped by above the treetops, and even the cloud formations were dynamic. Meyers Chuck was a happening place today.

 Here’s the recipe, such as it is, and a two-thumbs up rating for no-fuss, easy solution #1 to the Too Much Pork Problem. Unfortunately there’s still enough meat left for solutions #2 to 5, whatever they are, sometime in the future. So, “divide, freeze, wait for inspiration” is my next best choice.

Thai Spring Rolls with Pork

1 carrot, peeled & thinly julienned or shredded
6 inches of English cuke, thinly julienned
1 fat red radish, very thinly sliced
handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced (mint is good too)

slivered, cooked pork (from a fist-sized chunk)
1 green spring onion, chopped
a bit of fresh jalapeno, minced
1 TB sesame seeds
2 TB seasoned rice vinegar
2 TB sesame oil
1 TB Ponzu sauce (or soy sauce + lime juice)
dash or two of fish sauce (nam pla)

rice noodles (saifun), soaked, rinsed & drained (about a fist-sized chunk when dry)
6 or more small rice paper wrappers


1. Cut the vegetables, but watch your fingers if you’re gazing out your galley window at the same time.
2. Mix the vinegar, oil, Ponzu and fish sauce in a small bowl. Add the slivers of pork, onions, jalapeno bits and the sesame seeds. Toss to mix, and set aside to marinate briefly.
3. Heat 3 cups of water to boiling and remove from the stovetop or micro. Drop the rice noodles into the water and let sit until softened, about 3 minutes or so. Use a spider or strainer to remove the limp noodles, but keep the hot water to soak the rice paper wrappers. Rinse the noodles with cold water and drain again.
4. Fill a pie plate or other flat pan with hot water, about an inch deep. Submerge one rice paper wrapper and let it sit until soft and pliable, about 10 seconds - don’t oversoak or it turns mushy and tears easily. Remove the wrapper and lay flat on a plate or cutting board. If a wrapper does tear, just layer another soaked wrapper on top and carry on.
5. Place a small portion of pork in a line across the bottom third of the wrapper. Scatter a pinch of carrot over it. Scatter a pinch of cuke over that. Do the same with the radish slices and basil or mint shreds. Add some noodles to the pile. Resist the temptation to overfill and use too much noodle.
6. Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling and, pressing firmly, roll into a tight cylinder. Press firmly as you go, rolling as tight as you can without tearing the wrapper. If you use the larger size of spring roll wrapper you can fold in the sides as you go, like rolling a burrito.
7. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings.
8. Serve with a variety of dipping sauces. We like
       -sweet Thai chili sauce
       -peanut sauce

Notes: The spring rolls will hold for an hour or two, covered lightly with plastic wrap or a damp towel, but will get very soggy if referigerated or held much longer. Why not roll and eat right away? A large platter of fillings and wraps can also be a fun Build Your Own station when friends gather, though experience shows that women play with food and guys wait for someone to fix theirs. 

Spring Roll Salad

Dice any unused vegetables above. Rough chop a handful of peanuts. In a bowl add the vegetable bits, peanuts, leftover noodles and meat. Toss with a splash of seasoned rice vinegar, sesame oil and Ponzu. Add extra portions of vegies, meat or seasonings as desired. It’s just as good as the Spring Rolls without the rolling exercise!


  1. These look fantastic. So light and healthy! Thanks for helping me keep my New Year's resolution!

  2. Sandy - good luck with the New Year's resolution. My #1 resolution (again) is to eat healthy.


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