Today, I did something I’m very proud of: I made Thai Summer Rolls!
And they were AWESOME. Yummmm!
Thai is one of my absolute favorite types of food, but I’ve actually NEVER made a Thai recipe before! I always put it off because I never had the more obscure Thai recipe staples on hand, and was intimidated by the unfamiliar ingredients and sauces (not to mention by Asian supermarkets!).
Well — it’s never too late to conquer your cooking fears, right? Today was the day, thanks to Project Food Blog’s 2nd Challenge: conquer your fear of cooking a classic ethnic cuisine!
The second I saw the challenge I knew I wanted to make summer rolls. My absolute favorite Thai place in DC, Sawatdee, got me addicted to summer rolls, and I miss them SO much since moving to NC! Matt and I have tried summer rolls at a few of the Thai places down here, but they just don’t live up to our favorites. My challenge was clear:
Amazing Thai Summer Rolls or bust!
After some research online, I found a step-by-step recipe that looked good and very close to my favorites at Sawatdee: Fresh Thai Summer Rolls from About.com’s Thai Food section.
Looking at the ingredients list, I knew my first challenge would be to tackle my fear of Asian grocery stores. Asia Market, here I comeeeeeee!
Love that it used to be a Pizza Hut, haha.
It was a little intense inside, with LOTS of unfamiliar ingredients!
Including this gem — wtf?! Matt and I were really tempted to buy one just to see what the heck it tasted like, ha.
After about half an hour of confusion (lessened by some very helpful store staff), we emerged triumphant! The goods:
I think the star was this FISH SAUCE! Sounds gross, but apparently it’s in almost all of my fave Thai dishes! Who knew?! :)
Then, after hitting Trader Joes for a few more ingredients, it was time to get cooking! I lined everything up and got ready to rock.
And then… oh CRAP. Do you see that ground coriander in the picture? Well, the recipe called for fresh coriander, but we couldn’t find any in the stores, so I figured we could just sub it out for ground coriander. I looked up how to convert measurements for fresh coriander into ground coriander, and discovered that apparently fresh coriander really means fresh CILANTRO! Ooooooops. I had no idea that ground coriander actually comes from the seed of the cilantro plant!
By the time I discovered this I was already arm deep into cooking, so I sent Matt out to run across the street to the co-op in search of cilantro. Whew! Crisis averted :)
I followed the recipe exactly, except that I left out the spring onions, because onions are yucky :) The recipe was pretty time consuming, but totally worth it!
Step 2: Soak the rice noodles!
Step 3: Stir fry the chicken:
Step 4: Drain the noodles, place the cooked chicken in a bowl, and prep the herbs and lettuce:
Step 5: Soak the rice wrappers in hot water to soften them up:
Step 6: The fun part — layer the ingredients on the rice paper and wrap it all up!
Yay! Getting the first one ready to wrap…
Preparing for battle:
My first wrapping attempt!
So far so good…
And… SUCCESS!! Yay :)
Matt got in on the fun, too! This would be a great dinner or lunch to make when having friends over — I’m sure everyone would enjoy crafting and wrapping their own rolls!
Wrapping them was actually pretty hard, though! After the first successful attempt, there were definitely some fails (and some more successes). Noodle and rice paper salad, anyone? ;)
Heh. Cutting them in half without mass destruction (and then trying to make them stand up straight like Sawatdee does) was also really hard! I have mad respect for Thai chefs now, ha.
For the most part, I think we did very well with the wrapping!
And then, before we were able to dig in — I had to tackle:
Step 7: Make a delicious dipping sauce!
I did some more research and ended up creating my own variation (trying to replicate the Sawatdee sauce as closely as possible!), adapted from this recipe.
Thai Spicy Peanut Chili Sauce
- 1/2 C fresh peanuts
- 1/6 C water
- 1/4 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1/4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. thai chili sauce
Toss it all into a food processor and whirl away! Alternatively, you can manually grind the peanuts and then mix them into the other liquid ingredients.
Yum — this sauce came out PERFECT!
And then, finally — it was time to eat!
The verdict? The summer rolls were absolutely delicious! They tasted EXACTLY like the ones from our favorite restaurant in DC. Matt and I both LOVED them. Major success!!
The highlights were definitely the yummy and flavorful chicken marinade and the delish spicy peanut chili dipping sauce. I’m so excited to finally have the ingredients on hand to make sauces and marinades like this again! I see some serious stir frying in my future…
What type of food are you scared of cooking? Perhaps it’s time you give it a try! :)