July 04, 2011

Fresh Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce

Taste of Thailand Part 2

So after the visit to the traditional Thai fresh market, we headed back to Angsana's home to get cooking. After meeting her lovely little daughter who showed us, as she does all the "students," their pets - an iguana and a rodent of some sort! When we got into the kitchen, and our aprons, we were put right to work. We both loved how forward Angsana was, tossing the chicken to Dad and saying "go ahead and rinse this." She had no issues whatsoever in handing out directions.

In the making of three recipes (Tom Kha Gai, Red Curry Duck, and Fresh Rolls) she taught us plenty of tricks and lessons about traditional Thai cooking. Galangal, for example, is like ginger but has a softer taste and shouldn't be substituted. Or, when cutting lemongrass use it until you don't see purple in the slices, throw the rest out as it isn't as flavourful. She taught us that fish sauce is a staple in the Thai kitchen, they put it in everything (much to my dismay!)

We pretty much made everything all simultaneously, and just ate when it was ready. Whatever was leftover was put to good use - her kids gobble it all up when they are home from school! This recipe is for the fresh rolls, which I requested because I absolutely love them. Tha Thai version did not use a rice noodle filling like I've had in so many Vietnamese restaurants - in fact, when I asked if we were putting rice noodles in she laughed and said that we were already using a noodle to wrap them - duh!

These are so tasty and you can really play around with the innards. For example, I don't like cilantro (amongst other things...) and used just mint leaves in my rolls. We made a fresh sweet chilli sauce to go with them (another difference from the satay sauce you get in Vietnamese restaurants) and I must admit, it was far superior to its store-bought counterpart!

Serve these as a meal or an appie for company! You may need to double the sauce recipe depending on how many rolls you make. 

For the sauce: 
3 large thai red chilies, minced 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp salt

1. Crush or pound the chilies and garlic together using a mortar and pestle or a meet tenderizer hammer. 
2. Whisk the sugar, vinegar, water and salt together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chilies and garlic, whisk. 
3. Simmer over medium to medium-low heat until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. 
4. Cool and set aside to serve with rolls.

For the rolls:
5-8 sheets of rice paper
1 carrot, peeled and cut into very thin strips
1/2 cucumber, seeded and cut into very thin strips
250 grams ground pork, cooked and drained
Fresh mint 
Optional: cooked shrimp or chicken breast strips, cliantro

1. Prepare all veggies for use. 
2. Soak rice paper in luke warm water in a big bowl for about 1 minute to soften.
3. Gently remove rice paper and place on flat surface. At one end, place a bit of every ingredient (you will play around with how good your rolling skills are versus what you can fit in the roll). Start rolling, pulling the ends in about halfway, before completing the roll. 
4. Cut the roll in half diagonally. 

Serve and prepare to take your praise!