Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu and Peanut Sauce

In the heart of this mildly cold winter in LA, it is nice to be able to hunker down and make a nice home cooked meal. There are always delicious take out or delivery options for Thai food or Chinese food, but I prefer to recreate my favorite dishes using healthy, fresh ingredients. Restaurant food always uses an excess of salt, sugar and oil in their food. I try to cook with healthy oils like Coconut Oil, Organic Sesame Oil or Organic Olive oil and I use Tamari instead of sodium ladened Soy Sauce. Tonight I am making Paul’s favorite, Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu and Peanut sauce, to go along with my standard stir fry vegetables and quinoa. You can find the recipes for the Stir Fried(Steamed) Vegetables and Peanut Sauce on my most recent post.
You will need to go to the grocery Store to pick up a few special ingredients for this including Spring Roll Skins(found in a clear plastic, frisbee like container), Rice Stick noodles (I used Maifun brand), and some kind of marinated pressed tofu (I used Wildwood Teriyaki flavor). Other than these three, the rest of the ingredients are pretty straight forward.

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You will need:

1 Pack Spring Roll Skins- Use however many you desire
1 Package Rice Stick Noodles
1 Package Pressed, Marinated Tofu- Cut in long slender rectangles.
1/2 Cup Cilantro
2 Carrots Carrots (Grated)
3 Scallions- Cut in strips the long way
Handful of Mint Leaves
Handful of Basil(preferably Thai Basil, can be found at Asian grocery stores)
1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
1 Cup Butter Lettuce or Romaine- Washed and Dried
Optional- Serrano Pepper sliced thinly without seeds (I didn’t use peppers, because my Peanut Sauce was extra spicy)

Measurements are dependent on how many rolls you are making and how thick you want them. Prepare all your fixings and place in individual bowls, easy for grabbing and placing on your spring roll.

First you will want to prepare your noodles, simply follow the instructions and let cool for a few minutes.

Next, make sure you have a good, clean area to work. Clear off counter space and place all your bowls filled with fixings close together.

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IMG_0051IMG_0055 IMG_0061 IMG_0058For the Spring Roll skins you will need a deep plate or serving dish, just deep enough for a small amount of water. Get a clean, dry dish towel and place it on the counter near your fixings. Warm some water, place on plate, take one skin and submerge it with your hands, make sure all the surface area is under water. Hold under for approximately 10-15 seconds. The skin will become extremely malleable and completely translucent. Pick it up with two hands and lay it flat on to the dry dish towel. Smooth out any wrinkles and voila you are ready to roll.

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There is no perfect way to fill a spring roll. If you are a big fan of basil, load it on, if you hate sprouts, leave them out, if you are an uber healthy no carb fiend, the leave the noodles off (although I don’t recommend that because they are delicious). Just start with a fixing and start piling it in, just remember that the skins are fragile so you can’t pack too much in.

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Once you have filled your roll, very gentle mash all the ingredients with your thumb and other fingers. Take one side of the skin and roll away, while pushing the filling in simultaneously, think rolling a burrito, enchilada or Bouche De Noel.

Slice in half, serve with Peanut Sauce or your favorite dipping sauce. I always put out the Sambal (Chili Sauce) just in case anyone wants an extra kick. This is an excellent appetizer or entree lunch. Enjoy!

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Our delicious Asian Feast, complete with Asian Bowls (Quinoa, stir fried vegetables and Spring Roll Fixings) and one of my favorite green teas, UCC! Such a delicious, satisfying and healthy Vegan meal.

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Sesame Citrus Tempeh with Peanut Sauce and Steamed Vegetables

Tempeh is a delicious soy product that can be marinated and grilled in place of meat or fake meat. It is a much cleaner form of protein than fake meat. It is simply cooked soy beans that form a white block during a fermentation process. I recently had a request for a tasty Tempeh recipe, here is what I concocted… It takes some time but is worth it to fully marinate the tempeh. It is amazing served with home made Peanut Sauce and Steamed Vegetables. The Peanut Sauce is my mom’s recipe, it is so tasty up will want to lick the pan!

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For the Tempeh you will need:

1 Pack of Organic Tempeh (found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, etc)

1 Teaspoon Cumin

1 Teaspoon Curry Powder

Juice of 1 Lemon

1 Tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos

2 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Diced Fresh Ginger

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

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Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Cut tempeh into 1/4 Inch Slices and place in a glass baking dish preferably with a cover.

Add Cumin, Curry Powder, lemon juice, Braggs Liquid Aminos, Toasted Sesame Oil, diced fresh ginger. Mix ingredients with tempeh, make sure each piece of tempeh is being marinated. If it looks too dry, add more toasted sesame oil and Braggs.  Place in oven and cook on 250 for one hour. This will ensure that the tempeh will marry with the spices. While the Tempeh is cooking prepare the peanut sauce and vegetables. After one hour, put a sauté pan on medium heat, add olive oil. Fry each piece of tempeh until golden brown. If you are on a strict diet you can skip the frying party, but it won’t be quite as delicious. Place on paper towel and get ready to serve.

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For the Peanut Sauce you will need:

1 Can Lite Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1/4 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari

1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

2 Cloves Fresh Garlic, chopped

Fresh Grated Ginger, to taste (1 Tablespoon)

1 Teaspoon Crushed Red Peppers

1/2 Cup Chopped Cilantro

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Place all ingredients except cilantro and red peppers in a medium sauce pan, turn heat to medium low. Let simmer, stirring occasionally. after 20 minutes or so the sauce should thicken and begin to smell good. At this time add cilantro and desired amount of red chili flakes. If you can handle the heat, add more chili peppers. They go a long way, so don’t over spice. Continue to simmer until cilantro has blended in. Voila, you have delicious Peanut Sauce, great for all Asian inspired dinners. It is packed with protein and good fats!

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For Steamed Vegetables

1 Head of Broccoli

1/2 Red or Yellow Onion

1/2 Cup Sliced Mushrooms

1-2 Carrots, peeled and chopped

Dark Leafy Greens such as Kale or Spinach, washed, and chopped.

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Chop all vegetables. Place in Large Saute pan or wok. add 1/4-1/2 cup of water. Cover for 10 minutes or until water is evaporated. Depending on how you like your vegetables, pour more water and steam for longer. I personally like my vegetables to have a little crunch to them. Serve with the delicious Tempeh Slices and Peanut Sauce.  ENJOY!

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Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

My friend Jake is an excellent cook, fortunately for me he is always very considerate of my vegetarian lifestyle. This summer his specialty has been Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps, but when I came over for dinner he made a vegetarian version, Mushroom Lettuce Wraps! So delicious and full of flavor; I had to recreate them at home. Now they have become a favorite in my home as well!

Mushrooms are a perfect substitute for meat, because they are very susceptible to flavoring and when you cook them down they have a hardy, almost meaty texture.

Remember that when cooking mushrooms, it is important to wash them well, and that the mushrooms cook down a lot! Meaning that 2 baskets of mushrooms can only feed about 2 people.

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Mushroom Lettuce Wraps A La Chef Jake 

2 Baskets of Mushrooms (Cremini, button, portabello, whatever’s clever)-finely chopped

1/4 Inch of Ginger- Grated

1 T Coconut Oil

1 Clove Garlic-minced

1/2 red or white onion- finely chopped

1/2 Can water chestnuts-chopped (Optional)

1 T Sambal (Asian Garlic-Chili sauce) (to taste, depending on desired heat level)

1 Head of Butter Lettuce

1/4 Chopped Cilantro- for condiment

1 Sliced Avocado- for condiment

In Large Skillet, Sautee Onion and garlic in 1/2 T of Coconut Oil, once soft(About 10 minutes) add rest of Coconut oil, ginger, mushrooms, water chestnuts. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all moisture is out of mushrooms, add Sambal to taste. Let Cool, Assemble as if making a taco, where the butter lettuce leaf is the tortilla and the mushroom the filling! Add Avocado and cilantro for extra flavor.  Enjoy!