Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Ladies (and gents) who lunch

(Think that's bad? You should have seen my original choice of title.)

Mike and I have recently started trying to cut back financially (only, ooh, five months behind the rest of the world? We're a bit slow on the uptake), and the latest casualty has been Mike's deli lunches: given that his office is a grand total of 64 metres away from the flat it seems a bit ridiculous not to have lunch at home. The only thing is that, left to my own devices, I don't really eat lunch. That sounds more abstemious than it actually is, given that I stuff myself with an enormous bowl of porridge every morning and then snack all day until dinner, but the basic point remains: homemade lunches are relatively unchartered territory chez nous. This next recipe looked like a good place to start though - nice and light and (I thought) quick (ha!). It's suggested as a starter or canapé, so I thought the four-person quantities would be a good-ish amount for lunch for two.

33. Som Tum Rice Paper Rolls (Spicy Food)

Note to self: anything involving julienning vegetables is always going to take a long, looong time: a good hour elapsed between the first shallot being sliced and the last finished roll being plated up. As well as julienned cucumber and underripe mango (you can use papaya instead, but I know from sticky experience that even the least ripe papaya dissolves into a fleshy mess as soon as you get anywhere near the seeds) the filling contains quartered cherry tomatoes, sliced shallots, a sliced chilli, mint leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and a spoonful of sugar. You squelch all of this together (hurrah for gratifyingly onomatopoeic instructions!), then divide between softened rice paper rounds and roll up. This is where I came unstuck a bit - in order to soften the rice paper you dip it in hot water, and I couldn't manage this seemingly unchallenging feat without the damned things springing enormous holes. Luckily Mike stepped in before my frustration compelled me to do regrettable things with various kitchen implements, and the rolls you see above are his handiwork. You're told to slice them in half, but they were pretty delicate so we only risked it with one. Actually, though, whole rolls proved a bit unwieldy, so cutting's probably the way to go. Oh, and we got eight rolls from the recipe rather than the six stipulated. As per suggestion we ate them with sweet chilli sauce scattered with roasted cashews - I did take a photo but won't subject you to it, out of respect for your artistic sensibilities.

Yum yum! (Though come to think of it that's probably an actual sentence in Vietnamese which means something entirely different.) These were very tasty indeed, and - I think I'm right in saying - the first recipe from the 'Spicy Food' chapter to really have a kick to it. Plus it made the perfect amount for a light-ish lunch for the two of us. Success!

Mike says: "I came back to a stressed-out H, swearing at these rice paper thingies trying to soak them and then wrap things in them. After watching her fumbling attempts and feeling the temperature of the room rise a few degrees with angered sweary heat I had a crack at it myself, and voilĂ , Mike, god of all things good, created perfectly mastered rolls, which look, if I do say so myself, exactly like the ones in the recipe book. When it came to eating them they were also very good and weirdly thirst quenching. Very refreshing, a perfect snack or accompaniment, but maybe not right for a full meal. Warning, high faff rating for preparation."


Laura @ Hungry and Frozen said...

I've found wild discrepancies between different types of rice paper - some tear at the slightest pressure whereas some are like starched linen and can handle quite a going over. These sound lovely although I don't know if I could bring myself to quarter a tiny cherry tomato.

Alana said...

Mmmm, looks goooood! I think I shall have to try some of them. Every time I've tried to make rice paper rolls I've used several seperate fillings, and ended up over over-filling them to the point I can't roll them up, so mixing it all toghether sounds like a plan!