Vietnamese Summer Rolls



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I was always curious about those translucent bite size rolls I had a various Asian restaurants or farmer's markets prepared food stands .They were light in contrast to the heavily fried spring or egg rolls at most Chinese restaurants. They actually tasted healthy and they were so delicious.I always yearned for more and wanted to make my own. The translucent white covering reminded me of alabaster and was always a mystery to me until I met my friend Ashley.

Ashley was born in Vietnam and is an excellent vegan cook. Whenever she would visit  I was very, very fortunate to be the recipient of a variety of Vietnamese treats she would bring over to my home. The polite thing to do would be to say there was no need to bring anything rather than eagerly await more. What can I say ? It was so delicious and I learned so much about her cuisine that I was guilty of being very impolite as well as well fed.

One of the best things she ever did for me was to give me a cooking lesson on making Summer rolls. She told me to buy some green leaf or romaine lettuce, veggies and veggie meat and she would bring the rest including those mysterious translucent wrappers. She knew I grew mint in my garden and she said I would need lots of it as well as basil as they use lots of fresh herbs in her country of origin.

The recipe below is a variation of her original recipe adapted for warmer summer nights and seasonal vegetables.

Serves 4-10 people depending if this is your appetizer or main course. 

Ingredients
1 package of summer roll skins from the Asian markets (larger diameter dinner plate size )
1 package of firm tofu
1 package of Tofurkey slices or your favorite vegan deli meat 
3 -4 bundles of dried bean thread vermicelli from Asian markets (these are translucent noodles made from bean an potato starch)
1 head of green or red leaf lettuce or Romaine
3-5 carrots grated 
1 yellow pepper cut into matchstick size pieces 
1 small purple onion mandolined or cut very thinly using keeping the circle shape 
several bunches of fresh spearmint, remove stems  
a nice bunch of fresh basil, remove stems 
1 lemon
few garlic bulbs
oil oil to coat skillet
3 Tablespoons of organic soy sauce or tamari
boiling kettle of water 





Kitchen Preparation
1.Boil water in a medium size saucepan.Add noodles and cook for just 1 minute .Drain then pour cold water to stop cooking and cool noodles. Drain again.
2. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium flame and sauté the garlic bulbs to season the pan for the vegan meat Remove and eat or save for another meal.
3. Cut 1/4 inch strips of Tofurkey and lay carefully in skillet and sauté until starting to brown. Add a tablespoon of the tamari and cover pan and quickly turn off the stove and let it continue cooking with the heat of the pan. By cooking the deli meat you greatly enhance the flavors and aroma.
4.Drain tofu and squeeze out water carefully or wrap in a dish towel to reduce water. Cut up the tofu in 1/2 inch by 1 inch wide slices,keeping the length. 
5.Pick a beautiful and large platter. Arrange lettuce, herbs, veggies, tofu, cooked deli-meat all on the platter in sections.Bring to the table 
6. Boil water and pour in a nice teapot to bring to the table along with a nice shallow bowl 
7.Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon and add 2 Tablespoons of Tamari and 2 Tablespoons of water and stir. Bring to the table as dipping sauce.

This is served family style at the table and everyone prepares and stuffs their own spring rolls. 

Table Preparation
Each guest gets a turn pouring bit of kettle water over a rice sheet until it softens and becomes translucent.Then they transfer the skin to their dish and take lettuce, herbs ,and veggies and either the tofu or veggie meat and roll the spring roll tightly closing ends and cutting into 4 bite size pieces. Pour on lemon tamari mixture and enjoy! It is suggest the hostess make a few as examples before serving. 
  



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