Rice Paper Rolls & Peanut Satay Sauce

By Thursday, August 5, 2010

My introductory entry was a long one… so I’ll try and keep this story as short and sweet as possible.

I was at work, at the NAC, and things were slow and I wasn’t feeling the greatest. So I decided to go home and make up the hours tomorrow, which would normally be my day off. Anyway, I get home and I realize a nap isn’t going to happen, so I start thinking of things to cook. I had already made chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies last night, so it was going to be the delicious-looking rice paper rolls I saw Nigella Lawson cooking on TV the other day.

I picked up the rice paper last weekend, and just happened to have the other ingredients around the house. Although it doesn’t call for it, I thought I would add a dozen tiger shrimp I had saved in the freezer, and display them against the rice paper in a pretty way like at Vietnamese restaurants. I also thought it would be a delicious idea to make some peanut satay sauce to dip the rolls into, as I find soya sauce can get a bit much. So here are the two recipes I’m working with, modifying and toying around with them, as I normally do:

Rice Paper Rolls
Adapted from Nigella Lawson

100 g vermicelli
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp thai fish sauce (nam pla)
bunch fresh mint 
bunch thai basil 
½ cucumber, julienned
spring onions, sliced
12 rice wraps

Soak the vermicelli according to the instructions on the packet, and drain once the translucent threads are rehydrated.Flavour the vermicelli with the rice vinegar, soy and fish sauces, and then add the chopped herbs, cucumber and spring onions. Mix gently with your hands to try to combine the noodles, herbs and vegetables. Soak the rice wraps (again, according to packet instructions) in a shallow bowl of hot water and then lay each one on a tea towel to pat dry. Run a fairly narrow strip of noodle mixture down the middle of the pancake, fold over one half and then carefully roll it up as tightly as you can. 

Peanut Satay Sauce
Adapted from Cooks.com

1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 tsps hot chili sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsps honey
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup peanut oil
Mix ingredients together. Should have a sweet/hot peanut flavor. Taste and adjust ingredients accordingly.

So I get started soaking the vermicelli noodles in hot water and begin to gather all the sauces I’ll need… soya sauce, rice vinager, sesame oil, fish sauce… whoops!!! The litre of fish sauce slips out of my hand and smashes onto the floor in a million little shards of glass. I am flabbergasted. I am soaked in fish juice, standing in razor-sharp glass I can’t see, and in complete shock at what has just happened.

I can’t decide whether or not I’m more upset that I didn’t get to use the fish sauce, or that I have a huge mess to clean up. I decide I can live without the fish sauce (it was only a tablespoon that I needed) and start to think about how I’m going to clean up. Meanwhile, everything stinks. And I mean really really stinks. If you’ve ever used fish sauce, you know what I mean. I try to pick up some glass, but I slice my finger open. Then I drop the glass and it slices open my big toe. I just can’t win here, people! So I tip-toe to the bathroom and wash my legs/body off, and then throw on a pair of brand-new flip-flops I just purchased Old Navy. But what next?

Just at that very moment, My Other Half happens to call. I tell him what happened, and he offers some good advice: scrape up all the sauce and glass into an isolated area, so at least it’s not dangerous, and work from there. So I grab my squeegee (normally used in cleaning the shower walls) and I get a nice little puddle of glass/fish sauce mixture. I shovel the glass into a garbage bag as best I can, and then I soak up all the sauce with towels.

You don’t need all the gory details about how I ended up cleaning it all, but let’s just say this: I had to fill the kitchen sink with bleach to rinse the white towels about 10 times, and then had to wash the floors about 3 times, and it still was way too stinky. I’m texting my roommate (we’ll refer to her as Roomie from now on. By the way, we like her, she’s fantastic) during all of this, and I’m sure she’s rolling her eyes at how nuts I am. Since I ran out of Pine Sol recently, I grabbed a bottle of Febreeze and poured in on the floor. I mopped it up, it dried… and finally, I can get back to cooking. The fish smell is gone!

What could possibly go wrong now? I carry on, mixing up the noodles, cucumber, sauces… adding a little bit of this and that here and there… and everything is going well. Then it’s time to make the peanut satay sauce. I get everything in a nice little bowl, all ready to go, except the honey, as it’s too hard. So I throw it in the microwave and get out the cayenne pepper and start sprinkling it into the mixture. Suddenly, I hear a huge POP! and I realize the honey has fallen over. I open the microwave door and the plastic is melted everywhere and there is bubbling-hot honey oozing from the roof, sides and door. If you know anything about hot sugar, you know it can burn you really badly. I manage to salvage a couple tablespoonfuls of honey… and then I go about mopping up the honey as best I can, trying not to burn myself.

At this point I’m at my wit’s end. Hence the idea to start a cooking blog. Wanna know the most ridiculous part? Everything is clean, but the rice paper rolls aren’t even finished yet. That’s right, they’re still sitting on the counter waiting for me to roll them. Maybe I’ll go do that… as I have a soccer game in 45 minutes.

Ok, they’re done. And they don’t look that great… presentation isn’t awesome, as Ramsay would say (man, I love him!). And they’re super messy to eat, however… the peanut satay sauce just might be the greatest thing since sliced bread. And I really mean it. Roomie even thinks so too! Check out the pics… yum yum yum. Now I’ m off to soccer… I hope I don’t get a stitch from my yummy food!

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