This week we decided that we had enough space in the flat sorted to be able to entertain Clare and David, Sophie’s god parents and her mums best friends. Last minute preparations included repairing and reinforcing two of the four chairs for the table. Quite sweetly, the chair seats covers were needlepointed by Clare and by Sophie’s mum many years back.
Clare and I are both kitchen alphas and foodies and they so graciously feed us whenever we are around so it is always a pleasure when we are able to make a meal for them. I suggested two different menus to Sophie and she chose the Thai-themed one thinking it might be more of a treat for Clare and David.
I think perhaps the fresh rolls with peanut sauce were the biggest hit. Sophie and I love these and get them whenever we are at a Thai restaurant that serves a veggie version of them. We have a place at home near school, Thai Kitchen, that serves excellent ones. They are basically salad fixings wrapped in softened rice “paper” sheets served with peanut sauce and chili paste for dipping. Recipe below.
It was an adventure trying to find the rice paper wraps, but I found them at a store in Ealing Broadway called Organic for the People, which is an all organic and vegan grocery store with products from all over the world. It is here that I found rice vinegar and the silken tofu for making dessert.
And, I made the peanut sauce twice. The first batch had slightly dodgy peanut butter. I smelled and thought, this isn’t right (but I am sensitive to that off smell of oxidized oils). I thought maybe my nose was being overly sensitive, but it still had that smell and taste when made into peanut sauce. Sophie, despite not minding the taste, very sweetly went to the lane to purchase a new jar of peanut butter.
For the mains, we had sweet chili basil eggplant, bok choy with shitake mushrooms and ginger, red curry green beans, dry fried tofu with Thai spices, basmati rice, and an avocado and cucumber salad over slaw made from the unused julienned vegetables for the salad rolls.
Makes 10 to 12 rolls
1 nest rice noodles (nests or angel hair style–thin)–about 2 cups prepared
1 large carrot, grated
2 cups, thinly sliced cabbage
2 cups baby spinach or lettuce leaves
1/2 to 1 cup fresh basil, fresh mint and/or fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
1/2 large sweet red pepper, cut into thin slivers
2 small or 1/2 large thin skinned cucumber, peeled and cut into thin slivers
2 scallions (green onions), white and green parts, thinly sliced longwise and cut into 2 inch long pieces
1 package large rice paper wraps (about 8″ in diameter)
Other optional fillings: thin slices of baked tofu, avocado slices, other raw julienned vegetables.
Cook noodles according to package direction (usually soaked in boiled water for 8 to 10 minutes). Drain and set aside to cool to room temperature. Prepare fillings and set them near each other for making the rolls.
One at a time, soak a rice paper wrapper in very hot water (but not too hot for your fingers) for about 2 minutes until it softens enough to roll. Remove the wrap from the water and put in on a flat surface (I use a plate). Pile small amounts of each of the vegetable and noodles into the wrap in a log shape in the middle of the wrap, taking care not to overfill it. Then fold in the ends of the short side of the log and then fold one of th remaining sides over the pile of vegetables and roll as tightly as you can without breaking the wrap, like you might when making a burrito.
Set on a serving plate seam side down and cover with plastic. Continue on in the same manner until you have used up your fillings or your wraps.
Keep covered with plastic wrap (cling film) until ready to serve. Serve with peanut sauce and chili sauce/paste for dipping.
4 generous portions
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup water
1-2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon, chili sauce (optional)
roasted peanuts, chopped or crushed
In small food processor or blender, blend first 7 ingredients together until smooth. If mixture is too thick add more lime juice or water to thin. Serve topped with crushed peanuts with chili sauce on the side.