It's the perfect summer recipe: spring rolls. And this recipe is a good one, courtesy of this week's Grillaxin subject, Robin Leventhal (don't miss part one and part two of Grillaxin! Leventhal's life will not be defined by pastrami and she won't spit in your food!).
The personality of this former Top Chef contestant and owner of the now-defunct, forever missed Crave is very much reflected in the food she makes: unfussy and honest. "I'm never endeared by the environment of a restaurant," Leventhal says. "I will take a great meal in the International District any day over a fancy experience." That being said, Leventhal admits to having an amazing dinner at Alinea in December. "Grant's [Achatz] food is sublime. The dining experience was perfect. I recognize and appreciate that, but is that a daily experience? No. It's a special occasion. That's not what attracts me. I like the taco trucks. I'm a taco-truck girl! I'm obsessed with El Camion's tamale. It's so light and fluffy. It's delicious inside and out."
Check out Leventhal's recipe for Fresh Spring Rolls With Pickled Daikon and Sweet Chili Sauce after the jump!
Rice wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)
Carrots - julienned
Fresh mint leaves - julienned
Fresh cilantro, trimmed top 4" of sprigs
Napa cabbage or Romaine lettuce, julienned
2 limes, zested
Peanuts - roasted and salted, preferably no skins
Spread peanuts on a towel and crush with a flat bottom of a sauté pan, put in bowl. Peel and julienne carrots, keep them neatly aligned and lay on a tray. Separate leaves off head of cabbage or lettuce, cut the white vein or core that runs up the center, sliver into strips, then place next to carrots on the tray. Next, cut the leaf of the Napa cabbage or Romaine into 4" squares. These do not have to be perfect, approximate is fine. They will be the base which all the other ingredients are wrapped around. Pick cilantro sprigs and julienned mint, pile separately. Zest limes, put in a little bowl or pile on corner of tray with all the ingredients.
Making the Spring Rolls
Fill a shallow dish with warm water wide enough to hold the rice wrapper. Next, get a lasagna pan or rectangular Tupperware that is wide enough to accommodate the finished spring rolls. Wet two doubled-over paper towels and then wring out well (towels should be moist but not damp). Place one across the bottom of the dish and save the other one to cover the spring rolls. Dip one wrapper into the warm water for about 15 second until it is just soften. Lay wrapper flat. Place the cilantro sprig In the center then lay the down Napa cabbage or lettuce square closer to your edge . Be sure to leave a couple inches on each side and on the far end to get a tighter wrap. Next, place a row of shredded carrots on your edge of the leaf. Continue with a thin row of the slivered Napa core .
On top of the carrots and cabbage, sprinkle the fresh mint, a nice pinch of lime zest and some crushed peanuts. You should have a little of every flavor in every bite! Be careful not to over stuff; it's easy to do and will take a few rolls to get your ratio down. All the ingredients should be in a fairly tight row on your end of the leaf. Fold the end closest to you in, gather the vegetables under this and pull toward you compressing it into a tight core, like a mini burrito. Now, fold the uncovered sides inward, tapered slightly so it forms a wedge that is wider on your side and gets narrower on the far edge. Keep the core tight and roll away from you . The cilantro sprig should show through the wrapper. Place finished roll in the lasagna dish and cover with moistened towel. If a wrapper breaks, just remove the center filling and transfer to next wrapper. Continue until you have made as many as you desire. These will keep well for a few hours in the fridge covered with plastic wrap to keep the paper towels from drying out. But remember, too much moisture will make them fall apart.
Serve rolled spring rolls cut in half at an angle on a bed of pickled daikon with the sweet chili sauce.
1 ½ c Rice Wine Vinegar
2 c Sugar
1tsp. Yellow Curry Paste (optional)
Bring all above to a boil in small sauce pan, remove from heat, let cool down before pouring over thinly sliced (1/16") peeled daikon. (Chef's Note: I like to store in glass as the turmeric will stain plastic. Full strength bleach will take out any stains if this does happen.) This is best to do at least one day ahead to give the radish time to pickle.
Will keep in fridge indefinitely and are yummy to have around for other uses!
Sweet Chili Sauce
2T minced Garlic
2tsp chili Flake
1C rice wine vinegar
1tsp fish sauce
1T corn starch mixed into ¼ cup cold water to form a slurry (do at last minute)
Add all ingredients in a small sauce pan except corn starch slurry. Bring to a hard simmer then whisk in the corn starch slurry and simmer for a few more minutes whisking to be sure no lumps form. Be sure to get the bottom and corners of the pan as you stir. Avoid boiling after starch has been incorporated as it breaks the starch down. Once the sauce is thicken and has become glossy and translucent remove from heat and let cool before transferring to a jar. This sauce will keep in fridge for months if stored in a glass jar.
Or if you want, use May Ploy and add a little fish sauce to it, its almost as good.