Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Miso and Sesame Vermicelli

I still remember the first spring roll I ever ate. I was in high school and my friend bought a lunch container of spring rolls from the grocery store. I asked him what it was and he let me try one. At the time, I had eaten the fried version of the roll from cheap Chinese restaurants.So, I had no idea what to expect. My first thought was about the wrapper. I did not know that spring roll wrappers were opaque and soft. The roll was filled with vegetables, some I had never heard of, and cooked shrimp. It was paired with a simple ginger and soy sauce. The first bite I took tasted fresh, unlike the fried rolls. In a way, it was unreal how a roll with very few ingredients could taste so good.

Ten years later, I’m living in East Asia and making spring rolls. Surprisingly, the spring rolls that aren’t fried are difficult to find in Nanjing. So, I’ve learned how to make them at home.

At first, I thought making spring rolls was tedious. It does take time to prepare the ingredients before you put them in the spring roll wrapper, especially if you are using an ingredient that needs to be cooked beforehand. When I make them with noodles, I will wait fifteen minutes for the noodles to cool down before handling them. Now that I’ve had more practice, I find it relaxing.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with fillings to see what works and what doesn’t. Here’s what I’ve discovered:

* Cucumbers and carrots are crunchy and keep well overnight in the fridge.
* Bell peppers are good for spring rolls that you plan on eating now, but they slip out of the spring roll when you try to eat one.
* Seasoned vermicelli noodles allow the spring rolls to become a meal, instead of an appetizer, and you don’t have to make a dipping sauce.

If you have some other ingredients that you enjoy adding to your spring rolls, feel free to tell me in the comment section below.

Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Miso and Sesame Vermicelli
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Vegetarian Spring Rolls with Miso and Sesame Vermicelli
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Ingredients
  • 1 large carrot peeled
  • 2 small cucumbers peeled
  • 6-8 spring roll wrappers dry
Vermicelli Noodle Sauce
  • 1/2 package vermicelli noodles
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon miso
Servings:
Instructions
Vermicelli Noodles and Vegetables
  1. Peel the carrot and cucumber. Place them in two separate piles.
  2. Cook the vermicelli per the directions on the package. While they are cooking, combine the miso, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl. Stir until the miso is no longer lumpy.
  3. When the vermicelli is done cooking, place them in a heat resistant bowl and add the sauce. Mix the noodles until they are covered with the sauce.
Wrapping the Spring Rolls
  1. Place lukewarm water in a shallow bowl or pan. This will be used to soak the wrappers.
  2. Take one wrapper and place it in the water for twenty seconds. On the package, it may say ten seconds, but you really need twenty seconds.
  3. When the wrapper is soft, place it flat on your counter top. Then, add your fillings near the bottom edge of your wrapper.
  4. Next, fold the right side in, followed by the left. Finally, fold over the bottom edge and "tuck in" your ingredients. Continue rolling your spring roll. Once it is rolled, place it on a plate or leave it on your counter top.
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Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream

Baking is slowly becoming a hobby of mine. I’m learning more about how to properly bake and how to master simple recipes. I’ve been trying to create new recipes that could become my go-to recipes when I need to make something for a gathering, or just for myself. One thing that I’ve learned about myself through baking is that I love to recreate flavors or make colorful baked goods.In this recipe, I paired two familiar ingredients together( peanut butter and chocolate) to create a fluffy and salty-sweet cupcake.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

I love muffins but they are difficult to find in China. I’ve only found them at western establishments and westernized bakeries. When I used to bake muffins at home, they would always turn out dry or the flavor would be weird. I tried making healthy muffins but they were always so dense. What’s the point in eating a muffin if it’s not going to taste going to taste good?

The  fall weather always inspires me to bake more and to try new things. I decided to make cranberry and orange muffins. I found a simple recipe for muffins on The Kitchn’s website. If you don’t know, I love their website. They feature so many tutorials on the most basic foods. It’s really great if you want to try something new but don’t know where to start. I think it’s very easy to get wrapped up in the world of food blogs and pretty food pictures but have no idea where to begin.

 

I took The Kitchn’s recipe and added dried cranberries,fresh orange juice and cinnamon. I’ve been enjoying learning about spices and flavor combinations lately. I thought that a semi-spiced muffin mixed with something acidic, sweet and tart would taste good. These muffins have a pungent orange flavor, so if you would like them a little less orange, I suggest you remove the orange zest. For a more spiced muffin, try adding an extra teaspoon of cinnamon.

 

You can find steps at The Kitchen’s website. The measurements for the cranberries and orange are in the recipe box below.Lastly, I used a few different ingredients to get a different flavor and texture of muffin, but you if you don’t have the same ingredients, use what you have.


Cranberry Orange Muffins
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Cranberry Orange Muffins
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Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup sunflower oil you can also use vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 cups full fat milk
  • 1 orange juiced
  • 1/2 orange zested
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Servings:
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Vegetable Fried Rice (chǎo fàn, 炒飯)

Fried rice is one of the quickest Chinese dishes to make; it’s also one of the cheapest. When making fried rice all you need is rice and vegetables. You can make it with beef, chicken or top it with scrambled eggs. It’s very easy to make, especially for beginner cooks, and it gives me a chance to try some new Chinese ingredients.

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Although I am not a vegetarian, I prefer to eat vegetarian Chinese dishes. I think that most of the sauces and spices used in Chinese cooking compliment vegetables and tofu well. Plus, Chinese vegetables are different from the ones we use in the U.S. The Woks of Life, a blog that focuses on traditional and non-traditional Chinese dishes has a whole glossary dedicated to Chinese vegetables. For this recipe, I decided to keep it simple with carrots and broccoli. However, in the past, I have used bok choy, scallions, bean sprouts, edamame and many other vegetables.

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If you are going to try to make fried rice at home, I suggest that you have everything mise en place. This is a fancy French word meaning “putting in place”. Since you will have to work quickly when cooking the ingredients, it’s almost necessary to put all of your ingredients in separate bowls. If you don’t have everything in place, your food can burn and it will be disastrous, trust me.

Don’t be afraid to make fried rice at home. It’s simple to make and doesn’t require much time or money. Even in Nanjing, it’s cheaper for me to make friend rice at home than buying it at a restaurant. Lastly, it’s an easy way to start exploring the world of Chinese cooking.

fried-rice-collage

Vegetable Fried Rice
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Vegetable Fried Rice
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Ingredients
  • 6 Chinese spoons soy sauce
  • 2 Chinese spoons sesame oil
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 head broccoli cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 white onion diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons oil sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch white sugar
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a bowl, mix the sesame oil, soy sauce, white pepper, salt, and sugar together. Set the bowl to the side.
  2. Heat your skillet or wok on medium heat and add the oil.
  3. Next, add the onions and garlic to the skillet and allow them to cook for two minutes. Make sure to consistently move them around the pan so they don't burn.
  4. Then add the carrots and broccoli. Cook for another two to three minutes.
  5. Finally, add the rice and sauce. Mix the ingredients together well. Allow the rice to cool for a minute before serving.
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Egg Roll (鸡蛋卷) with Three Kinds of Cream

While living abroad, especially in Asia, you are going to find some interesting street food. I have tried so much food on a stick or in a paper cup. I think that is one of the best parts about living abroad; trying new foods that you may not find in your hometown.

Lately, I have been seeing these wafer-like rolls sold near my neighborhood. I’ve been meaning to try them,but I always forget about them by the time I pass by the vendor. Plus, you can’t buy them one at a time, you have to buy a bag of at least ten. They aren’t filled or topped with anything. Many people think that they are sweet enough but I disagree. These egg rolls are slightly sweetened and crispy. A friend gave me some and suggested that I fill them with cream. I found a cream recipe on Eugenie’s Kitchen’s website. I wasn’t too familiar with her work but her cookies and cakes looked cute and colorful.

For the creams, I wanted to make one that was different than what I normally make and two simple ones. I decided to make a matcha, chocolate and  cinnamon vanilla cream. The matcha cream may be difficult to make if you are living in the U.S, but you can definitely make the cinnamon vanilla and chocolate creams.

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erccollage

Matcha, Cocoa and Cinnamon Vanilla Cream
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Matcha, Cocoa and Cinnamon Vanilla Cream
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Ingredients
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutella optional
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Add cream and sugar to a bowl. Whip until the cream is fluffy and forms soft peaks.
  2. Divide the cream into three bowls. Add the matcha powder to the first bowl, the cocoa powder to the second one and the cinnamon and vanilla to the third one.
  3. When all three are mixed, place one of the creams in a pipping bag and pipe it into the egg roll. Repeat this step for the rest of the creams.
  4. Optional: You can chill the egg rolls for up to ten minutes to let the cream become firmer.You can also drizzle nutella on top of the cinnamon and vanilla egg rolls.
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