Hot Fun in the Summertime
Called goi cuon in Vietnamese, these fresh rolls offer a light and refreshing alternative to their oil-laden spring roll cousins. Although these are traditionally made with steamed shrimp and slivers of roasted pork, I like mine vegan with lots of crunchy veggies and no meat or seafood. I even spike them with a few shitake mushrooms sauteed in a bit of oil and then cooled – this addition makes the rolls even more filling as a main dish. Complete the non-meat meal with a tasty dip in some peanut sauce (find a version with no fish sauce) or hoisin sauce. Welcome to the ultimate in coolness.
You’ll note that there are no amounts in this recipe – fill the rolls to your liking with the veggies of your choosing and dunk away. It’s your show and you get to cast the characters. That means you’re cut, bean sprouts! Continue reading Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon) →
Greatest Wrapper of All Time
Cha gio, the Vietnamese answer to the Chinese spring roll, are a heck of a lot more than a crispy wrapper around a bit of filling. The complex mix of tender pork, delicate shrimp and crab, and savory vegetables and spices form an addictive amalgamation that trumps the few shreds of cabbage and roast pork in a traditional spring roll. Combine this roll with the delicious crunch of herbs and lettuce, and finish the whole thing off with a dunk into some sweet and salty nuoc mam, and you are in for a treat.
I always order cha gio with all the fixings at Vietnamese restaurants, and feel that the presentation lends an air of luxury to the dish. And yet, when I was young, our Vietnamese friends would make the rolls in large quantities and share with anyone deserving of a little treat – cha gio were unpretentious and meant to be shared. I feel the same way about feijoada completa (the Brazilian national dish of black beans, rice, and assorted condiments) – in a restaurant, the many dishes of food that make up the meal add an element of grandeur to the meal, when in actuality, feijoada is the people’s food at its best. Just good, honest cooking meant to be shared with friends and family. Continue reading Cha Gio (Vietnamese Crispy Spring Rolls) →