A couple of days in the 80s, and spring has arrived.
Farmers market will be open in just a few weeks, and I’ll bring home more things than I can possibly make in a week, as I always do.
But, in the meantime, the cabinets and fridge are still pretty lean in my house, and I’m ok with that. Maybe it’s my way of making room for the new season, I don’t know, but I do know that I didn’t want to go to the store to get anything for dinner.
I had a few vegetables, some tofu. What could I do with those?
And then I saw it. An unopened package of Vietnamese wrappers. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d actually made rolls with similar wrappers.
The first time I’d seen them used was years ago, on one of celebrity cook Nigella Lawson’s first cooking series. I was intrigued that they only needed to be placed in warm water to be made pliable, and then you could wrap things in them!
Well…I could do that.
So I pulled out the tofu, along with a jalapeno pepper, some arugula, half a red bell pepper, and a couple small celery stalks. Also got out soy sauce, rice vinegar, and some oil.
Sliced the tofu into thin planks, about 1/8″ thick and an inch wide, and cut the jalapeno into four vertical slices around its core, tossing the seeds and core. Then cut those slices into thin 1/2″ long strips. Mixed the tofu and jalapeno strips in a bowl with some soy sauce and rice vinegar to marinate a little.
While I heated a pan over a medium heat with a coating of oil, I finely chopped the arugula, red bell pepper and celery in another bowl.
When the oil heated, I placed the tofu and jalapeno strips in the pan, turning them over once, all in about a 10-minute or so period. When they began to brown and get a little glisteny, I added what was left of the marinade, and turned up the heat to more of a medium-high, to reduce the liquid.
I laid out a towel for the wrappers, and poured hot water into a shallow bowl large enough to dip a wrapper into. I happen to have one of those instant-hot water taps at my sink, which can be very useful, as it was here. Otherwise, just really hot water from the tap.
As I said, I hadn’t done this for a while, and forgot how sticky the wrappers can be once they’ve softened. So you may lose a couple at the beginning while you’re getting a feel for it. I had one casualty. It totally balled up, and that was the end of that one. Another one had a couple of tears in it, but I still used it. They also stick to the towel, so lift carefully. Not to put you off using them! Like making crepes, it may take a couple to get a feel how to handle them.
So you lay the wrapper in the water, give it just a few seconds, lift out, set on a towel. I tried moving one wrapper to a cutting board to fill it, but then filled the others on the towel. I decided the less I moved them around, the more chance of success.
Then I added a few pieces of the tofu. On top of that, some of the chopped salad. I pulled one side of the wrap over the filling, then brought in the two ends, and rolled it up.
Slight saltiness of the tofu in soy was tasty with the fresh chopped veggies. Some soy sauce in a small bowl for dipping. I had a nice little meal.
This is one of those things that you could fill with any number of things: cucumbers, scallion, cilantro, carrots. The list goes on. Which is good, because I have more wrappers left in the package!