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
Peel the carrot and cucumber. Place them in two separate piles.
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.
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
Place lukewarm water in a shallow bowl or pan. This will be used to soak the wrappers.
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.
When the wrapper is soft, place it flat on your counter top. Then, add your fillings near the bottom edge of your wrapper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.