After spending Thanksgiving week up in the Smoky Mountains indulging in decadent smoked meats and moonshine, I easily decided on salad for our first dinner back home. I didn’t quite have enough on hand for a big chopped salad and since we were both exhausted from the 9 hour drive home the previous day, going out on a supply run was out of the question. So I took a package of tofu out of the freezer, dug around in the back of my cupboard until I found rice paper sheets, pulled the very limited supply of fresh veggies out of my fridge, and asked Amy to whip up a batch of her scrumptious peanut sauce. Summer Rolls are a fun hand held salad that can really help fill you up, if you only have lettuce and carrots in your fridge like I did. Once you get the hang of rolling them, it takes limited effort to pull this dish together.
Summer Rolls with Pan Seared Szechuan Tofu
6 rice paper sheets (more if one should tear while rolling)
2 cups of cooked Vermicelli
1 cup Carrots, thinly sliced
1 bunch Red Leaf lettuce, washed and leaves left whole
1 batch of Pan Seared Sezchuan Tofu
Cook Vermicelli according to package instructions and then toss it with a couple teaspoons of Toasted Sesame Oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set seasoned noodles aside to continue cooling. In a medium sized sauce pan add the warm water and set aside. Set up an assembly line on your kitchen island or counter top. Roll on a cutting board with warm water directly in front of you and arrange the remaining ingredients in order of how you want to layer them on the rice paper. To begin, soak the rice paper first in the warm water for a few seconds until it is pliable, place it on the cutting board, then place the lettuce at the bottom of the paper followed by seasoned noodles, Pan Seared Szechuan Tofu, and carrot slices. Once you’ve layered the ingredients on top the rice paper fold the sides first from left to right towards the center of the roll. Then roll from the bottom of the rice paper to the top while continuously tucking the ingredients and sides of the roll in as needed. If you’ve ever rolled egg rolls or a burrito then this process is exactly like that. It helped me when I first started making Summer Rolls to watch other people rolling on YouTube. Continue rolling until all ingredients are used. Line a baking dish with wax paper and layer the rolls in the dish as you finish them. If rolling several at once (recommended) separate each layer of finished rolls with additional wax paper. The rolls will stick together if they touch and subsequently the rice paper may tear. Let the rolls chill in the fridge at least 30 minutes and if storing them over night be sure they are covered securely so the rice paper doesn’t dry out. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.
Pan Seared Szechuan Tofu
1 pkg extra firm tofu
1 teaspoon Roasted Szechuan Salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup Toasted Sesame Oil
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan Peppercorns, lightly crushed in a mortar
In a cast iron skillet, heat the sesame oil over a medium high flame. Add in the crushed peppercorns and toast for a couple of minutes. In a mixing bowl toss the tofu with the remaining seasonings and then sear the tofu on all sides in batches. Set tofu on a paper towel lined plate and season with additional Roasted Szechuan Salt. Serve the tofu as is with a dipping sauce or add it to salad, pasta, stir fry, or soup.