By Trish Coffman
Some days it’s just too hot to cook, but if you’ve been training your little heart out, the eating thing still needs to happen.
This no-cook recipe is inspired by Vietnamese summer rolls, and while it takes a little bit of doing, the color and crunch are well worth the effort. Use shrimp (sliced in half so the pieces lay flat) in place of the tofu if you like.
You will need:
- 8 rice paper wrappers
- 8 oz baked or smoked tofu
- Vegetables — Choose a few of the following: carrots, radishes, red or orange bell peppers, hothouse or English cucumber, bean sprouts, mushrooms, avocado, scallion
- 1/4 C cilantro
- Fresh mint leaves from about 1 bunch
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Favorite dipping sauce (we like hoisin or peanut sauce)
First, cut the tofu into long, thin strips. Next, prep all those vegetables. Julienne (i.e., cut into matchstick-sized pieces) the carrots and cucumber. If you have a mandoline, you can use that, otherwise, a good chef’s knife does the trick. Thinly slice the other vegetables you’ll be using. If using scallion, use the green parts only, slicing them thinly lengthwise.
Next comes the assembly. Prepare a large bowl of hot water. Next to the bowl, place a damp tea towel or paper towel. Submerge one of the rice paper wrappers in the hot water to moisten it until pliable, about 10 to 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel (this keeps the wrapper from sticking to your counter and keeps it moist while you work).
Spread 1/8 of the tofu, vegetables and herbs on the third of the wrapper that is closest to you, leaving about an inch or so of wrapper at the bottom. When you’ve piled on the fillings, squeeze the juice of a lime wedge over them. To roll, lift the bottom inch of wrapper so that it partly covers the filling mixture, then fold the wrapper edges toward the center. Use your fingertips to secure the filling and your thumbs to turn the roll over, then continue rolling, as tightly as possible, until you have a finished roll. Set it on a damp paper towel and continue with the remaining wrappers.
Serve right away with dipping sauce (the rolls don’t keep well and so are best eaten immediately).