Food Blog

Fresh rolls with walnut-lentil pate and mock nuoc cham

I love fresh rolls/salad rolls made with rice paper. For Vegan MoFo last year, I made a much more elaborate version. That’s why I’d had my eye on this version in Salad Samurai, because vegan pate made with walnuts and black lentils is a hell of a lot more approachable than homemade vegan fish (made from tofu skin and agar), and with a more reasonable amount of prep.

First, gotta get everything ready to roll. Besides the pate–which I made the day before–all I had to do was chop up some veggies and herbs: lettuce, cucumber, carrot, radish, green onion, cilantro, and, what the hell, avocado. I set out a pie plate for hot water to soften the rice paper, a dinner plate for assembly, and a salad plate to pile up the winnings.

For each roll, gotta make a neat little pile of fillings and roll it tight. The paper shouldn’t get soaked in the water, only dampened, because it’ll continue to soften. Once you’re ready to roll, it’ll be perfectly pliable and won’t tear as easily as if you’d let it get too wet.

After a few rolls, you re-learn your own tricks, like putting somethin’ pretty like cilantro on the last fold so it’ll show through the translucent rice paper. They might not be perfectly or effortlessly uniform, but that’s OK. It’s just dinner.

Although the cookbook suggests a soy-mustard dipping sauce, I opted for the mock nuoc cham from Vegan Eats World, which is sweet and sour and had the side benefit of using up the remaining shredded carrot and adding a bit more herbs (fresh mint).

Food Blog None Vegan MoFo

#VeganMoFo Day 6: Recreate a restaurant meal

One of our favorite things to eat out is actually a dish we assemble ourselves: a roll-your-own fresh roll platter with faux fish, rice paper, and fresh herbs and veggies. Versions of it can be found at many Vietnamese and vegetarian Asian fusion-type restaurants, but we get ours at the Vegetarian House, a vegan mainstay in downtown San Jose, where it’s called the Sea Fruits Grill. The whole thing is enough for a very satisfying meal for two, and it’s fantastic in the summer heat.

Here’s their original:

A pretty big chunk of the work is assembling the components. It features mints and basils you’re not likely to find in many places, though luckily the Bay Area is incredibly diverse. The platter typically has: rice vermicelli with chopped scallions, thin slices of cucumber, mint, Vietnamese perilla, and Vietnamese coriander, with a big hunk of something meat-like and a bowl of warm water to soften the rice papers.

Vietnamese parilla has a strong minty flavor with an almost smoky edge

Vietnamese coriander doesn’t look or taste much like cilantro, but has a pleasant fragrance, so give it a try, haters!

Vegetarian House’s fake meat is a really tasty, flaky fish substitute wrapped in seaweed and crusted with ground peanuts and sesame seeds. Seldom satisfied with fake meat available in the grocery store, I wanted to try the recipe in Miyoko’s Homemade Vegan Pantry cookbook, which relies on yuba for substance, seaweed for flavor, and agar to hold it all together.

Yuba is the ‘skin’ that forms on top of soymilk as a byproduct of making tofu, and it’s chewy and a little bit slimy and can cook up crispy and flaky

The result: not precisely like the original at all, but still tasty and fun to eat! We also made a couple adjustments for nutrition (wilted kale instead of lettuce) and, well, negligence (I forgot to pick up a cucumber so I used julienned carrot), but it worked well. I even picked up the parilla and Vietnamese coriander at a local Asian grocery for a little authentic flair.

The just-barely-dampened rice paper is placed on a clean plate, where it continues to soften and become pliable while you pile on the fillings

Tuck in the top and bottom then roll tightly from one side to the other

Enjoy with a sweet/sour/spicy dip, like peanut sauce or mock nuoc cham (like that from Vegan Eats World)