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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gỏi Cuốn Chay (Almond Butter Tofu and Vegetables Summer Rolls)

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There was a time that I cooked 30-days of vegan meals for my family. My husband accepted a vegan challenge and he made the whole family ate vegan for an entire month. He lost weight and his cholesterol dropped significantly without any changes to his exercise. So the benefits are there. My older daughter became addicted to vegan/vegetarian food since. Since she doesn't care much for eating meat, I have incorporated vegan meals into our diet more regularly. Here's one of their favorites: The Summer Vegan Roll - I suppose you can call it whatever depending on the season and ingredients you use. 

These light, healthy, and satisfying Vietnamese-influenced summer rolls are comprised of a hearty, crunchy textures and fresh flavors from pan-tried tofu and almond butter sauteed shiitake mushrooms, brown rice noodle, sweet and tart mango, and plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables. 
RECIPE: Summer Rolls
make about 15 rolls


1 block of firm tofu
8-10 fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 1/2 bell peppers, assorted colors
1 mango
1/2 English cucumber
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1/2 package of thin rice noodle
sesame oil
a pack of rice paper
1 package of radish sprouts, optional

for the almond butter sauce:
1/2 cup creamy or crunchy almond butter, salted or unsalted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic, for sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic, for tofu
Prepping Sauce

In a bowl, combine sauce ingredients except water and garlic, whisk to combine. Put aside 2 tablespoons of sauce for sauteing the tofu and shiitake mushrooms. 

In a small sauce pan, saute garlic with oil until fragrant and slightly brown. Pour the sauce and water into the garlic. Whisk to combine. Adjust those seasonings depending on your preference. The almond butter sauce becomes thick once they're off the heat and have cooled down.

Prepping Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake Mushrooms - Most of the mushrooms shouldn’t be soaked in water and wash as they absorb lots of water. You just need to wipe well with cloth or paper towel. If you want to wash them, make sure to dry well or lightly squeeze each one to extract the excess water before cooking.
Cut mushroom into slices. It looks a lot in volume at beginning, but it will shrink to about half the size after they're cooked.

Tofu - drain the tofu and thoroughly pat dry with a kitchen towel or a paper towel.  Slice tofu in half thin.

Cut tofu into 12 strips.

Place tofu strips on a paper towel or a kitchen towel to keep them dry.

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Add tofu to the skillet and fry until all sides of the tofu are brown. 

When I make a double batch, I use the pancake griddle to fry the tofu.

Sauteing Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms

Use the same skillet to cook a tablespoon of garlic with sesame oil until fragrant. Add mushrooms into the skillet, mix it well. 

Cover and keep cooking until they shrink, soften, and become golden brown. Add fried tofu and the almond butter, stirring to coat. Cook for a few minutes until the sauce is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it cool down.

Cooking Noodle

Noodle and rice paper can be purchased at any Asian market for a lot less.  For convenience, I sometime get them both at BelAir market.  The brown rice noodle and rice paper made of brown rice are from Belair.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add noodle and cook according to the package directions.  Rinse, drain and set aside.  
Prepping Vegetables

Bell Peppers - cut into long thin strips.

Cucumber - peel some of the rough outer skin of the cucumber then cut into long thin strips.

Mango - peel the mango skin, cut mango into strips.

Cilantro and Mint - wash, shake it to remove excess water.  

Radish Sprouts - cut them at the roots.  Discard the roots.  Wash and set aside.

Assembling Summer Rolls

Pour water in a shallow bowl for dipping the rice paper. You can also find the rice paper holder/water bowl at most of the Asian markets for a few bucks.

Immerse a rice paper in water until wet on all surfaces, give it a shake to remove excess water, then transfer to a plate. Place a small amount of desired fillings in the center. 

Roll the front edge of the wrapper over the filling away from you.

Fold the right and left sides over toward the center.
Roll it away from you once, then add radish sprouts at the edge of the roll for presentation then continue rolling into a tight roll.  

brown rice paper

Cover the roll up with a plastic wrap to keep them moist and fresh. Repeat until all fillings are used up.  

Serve summer rolls with almond butter sauce. Add a dash of sriracha sauce to the almond sauce for some spice.

When time is pressing, I would serve summer rolls as a self serve style. I simply lay everything out on the table and let everyone wrap their own roll.

Eat well. Stay healthy.

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