Due to a kitchen remodel I’ll be without a kitchen for a few weeks, so I’ve asked some friends to keep my virtual kitchen going with some of their fabulous recipes. This week Sissi of With a Glass dropped by and brought some delicious spring rolls!
I can’t remember how long I’ve been visiting Sissi’s blog, but I do remember that the first time I landed there I knew that I would be back again and again and again – and I have! Sissi never fails to WOW me. She can make just about anything and does! Her recipes range from homemade ketchup to Hungarian stew, Kumquat Vodka to Easy Shrimp Dumplings . One of the things I love most about Sissi’s recipes is that they are not intimidating. Anyone can make them and they all look delicious! So when you head over to Sissi’s site, be prepared to spend some time there, because once you start surfing, you won’t be able to stop.
It’s all yours Sissi!
Hello, dear readers of MJ’s Kitchen. My name is Sissi and I am honoured to be guest posting on MJ’s blog today. When MJ invited me to blog sit for her I was extremely flattered. I admire MJ’s natural, compelling writing style, beautifully styled photos and, most of all, her fabulous recipes, often with fascinating South-American or Mexican origins. MJ says they are simple, but for someone who lives in Europe tamales, pecan nuts, tomatillos or succotash sound intriguing and exotic, so I always read MJ’s posts with eyes wide open. Thank you, MJ, for inviting me to your kitchen!
When I asked MJ if she had any dish preferences, she suggested Asian cuisine. Asian cookery inspires the majority of my meals, so I have happily welcomed her idea. The last hot sunny days are still there, so I have chosen to present you a recent snack discovery. It is a cross between Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine, driven by an inspiring recipe on a… Korean blog. It sounds a bit complicated, but in reality this four-ingredient recipe is quite quick and simple.
Vietnamese rice paper used to prepare the famous spring rolls is a versatile staple I enjoy every summer. It is easy to stock, it has a very long shelf life and filled with vegetable or meat leftovers, it can be transformed into delicious, light sandwich alternatives. Even though I experiment a lot with rice paper, I would have never thought of combining them with Japanese soba noodles (see Kitchen Notes below), if I hadn’t spotted Soba and Kimchi Rolls at Heart Mind and Seoul blog. The rolls looked delicious and the presence of soba noodles was particularly surprising and tempting. The day I decided to recreate this recipe I ran out of kimchi, so I decided to replace it with cucumber for a crunchy, fresh note.
These simple rolls proved to be one of these rare vegetarian (and even vegan) snacks in which, even as an avowed carni- and piscivore, I didn’t mind the absence of fish or meat. This is probably due to the fact that soba noodles have a high protein content and are quite filling. They are satiating, but not heavy thanks to the substantial amount of the cucumber and the light, hot dipping sauce. They are an excellent alternative to sandwiches and I have particularly appreciated them as an afternoon snack. Halved horizontally, they make original party finger food. For a more complete meal, I can imagine them as a side dish with grilled meat or fish.
Spring Rolls with Soba Noodles and Cucumber Recipe
Ingredients (for 5 – 6 rolls)
Preparation: about 20 minutes
6 rice paper sheets (22 cm/about 8.6 in. diameter)
50 – 60 g (about 2 oz.) soba noodles
1/2 big cucumber
2 – 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or less if using standard soy sauce)
1 tablespoon chili oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- Cook the soba noodles for 3-4 minutes in boiling unsalted water (the time depends on the brand and the kind of noodles, so check the exact time on the package).
- Drain the noodles with very cold water to stop them from further softening.
- Cut the noodles in two (shorter noodles will be easier to use here) and put aside.
- Prepare the cucumber cutting it in 6 cm sticks.
- Fill a big wide bowl with warm (not hot) water.
- Dip rice paper sheets one by one in the water, immersing them delicately so that you don’t break them.
- As soon as the sheet softens (about ten – twenty seconds), put it onto a chopping board.
- Place horizontally, about 5 cm/2 in. from the rice paper edge which is closest to you, a stack composed of noodles and cucumber pieces.
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds and roll tightly but delicately, starting from the edge which is closest to you.
- Proceed in the same way with the remaining rolls.
- Serve them immediately as they are or cut in two horizontally.
- If you wish to serve them later, wrap them individually in cling film because they dry out very quickly.
Soba (蕎麦) means in Japanese both buckwheat and buckwheat noodles. Soba noodles have a nutty taste and a characteristic strong aroma and can be served in both hot and cold dishes, the latter being particularly popular in cooling summer dishes. They are popular in whole Japan, but particularly in Tokio. According to Wikipedia, in the Edo period (from 1603 to 1868) the rich population of Edo (the ancient name of Tokio) who consumed only white rice, were poor in thiamine (vitamin B1), the deficiency of which lead to beriberi. When it was discovered that soba was rich in thiamine, the Edo population started to consume it in big amounts.
Dried noodles called “soba” can be bought in Japanese grocery shops, but most of them contain a mixture of buckwheat and wheat flours, so check well the ingredients before buying. My favourite are 100% buckwheat soba (juwari 十割 or towari) because of their intense flavour and aroma, but some people find them too strong. Soba noodles are usually light brown, but they can also be green when mixed with green tea (cha soba) or seaweed (hegi soba) and light pink when flavoured with cherry (sakura soba).
Buckwheat is not only transformed into flour and consumed not only in Japan, but in fact, hulled and roasted buckwheat grains are very popular in several Central and Eastern European countries (Russia, Poland, Ukraine…). In France “gallettes” or savoury crêpes originating from Brettany region are also made with buckwheat flour.
Belonging to the Fagopyrum genus, buckwheat is not a grass, nor a cereal, even though it looks like one. Its qualities are so numerous, it is surprising most of the Western countries never consume it. It is very rich in protein, minerals, antioxidants, and iron. It doesn’t contain any gluten; therefore, it can be consumed by people who don’t tolerate gluten. Moreover, buckwheat grows very quickly and easily. That is why it can be cultivated in cold climate and crops can be easily multiplied in hot regions. If you ever have the chance, taste buckwheat honey. It has an unforgettable aroma and taste.
MJ: Thank you so much Sissi for keeping my kitchen stocked with such a wonderful snack!