Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Taste of Asia in Guatemala: Spring Rolls

When we moved to Guatemala, the last thing I expected to learn was any form of Asian cooking. However, there were several things I didn't know: 1) People from all over the world work at international schools, including people from Asia, and 2) There is a considerable Korean population in Guatemala, which means at least one good Asian market.

A friend who helped me on my journey towards fitness also introduced me to spring rolls. She learned from a teacher who had taught in China and got pointers on how to make the sesame/vinegar combo from another teacher who was Japanese. It's really amazing how many types of people come together in the international arena.

While I like trying new foods, I wasn't sure I would like spring rolls. I wouldn't eat many of the following things raw or in this combination normally:

This combination included the raw ingredients of cabbage, (you can use lettuce) carrot, cucumber, red pepper, mango, spinach, and sesame seeds. I was totally addicted after the first bite!

The first thing that we cooked was the vermicelli noodles:

The process is almost identical to regular pasta: boil water and then add the noodles. The exception is that they seem to be more delicate and easier to overcook.

Save the hot water from the noodles to help un-stiffen the rice paper wrappers:

The rice paper wrappers were the weirdest, funnest part of making spring rolls! To me, they start out looking like plastic, circular place mats. Once placed in the warm (not too hot or they'll crack!) water, they sort of "dissolve" into a wiggly sticky wrapper that I treat like Saran Wrap because it tends to stick together easily. However weird it sounds, it is quite delicious and one of the best textures that brings the whole spring roll (literally) together.

Once the wrapper has "dissolved" in the warm water, we let held it up and let the excess water drip off, then placed it on a waiting plate. There, we put a layer of lettuce or cabbage, grated carrot, cucumber strips, red pepper strips, mango strips, spinach, sesame seeds and a good helping of the noodles. This is also delicious with avocado inside... but in my opinion, anything is good with avocado. Wrapped up like a burrito, it now looked like this:

Next, we cut the spring rolls in half and added about a teaspoon full of what I'll call "special sauce" to the noodles to give them some flavor. I couldn't remember exactly how this part went, so I just added the sesame oil, white vinegar and soy in a combination that I thought would taste best together. If you have actual amounts, please comment. Otherwise, just experiment with the taste and see what you like best. We really liked how ours turned out.

What really added the crowning flavor for me to this entire concoction, however, were the following two sauces: sweet chili sauce and wasabi!

It doesn't take much of either of these two sauces, especially the spicy wasabi! A small amount is enough, though, to enhance all of the naturally delicious flavors that already exist.

To raw fruit and vegetables that taste delicious!

Do you have a favorite combination for spring roll ingredients or some pointers for this first time learner?

No comments:

Post a Comment