Easy Spicy Peanut Sauce

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Today I went somewhere I dread going on par with the DMV…the Apple Store. Specifically the Genius Bar, since my computer has been having a major issue with staying on when I’m using it. Rude. I’ve managed to avoid this trip for moths, but it was inevitable and I finally decided to deal with it. It was just shutting off at all kinds of random times and it turns out (as Sean predicted) the video card is failing. So, it’s with the good people of Apple, getting repaired and I wont see it again for a week. I have feelings about it being away, but it’s probably good for us. The heart grows fonder and all that stuff. I realize I may be being a bit dramatic, but I hate this stuff.

I know this isn’t really a problem (evidenced by the fact that I’m still able to type this up thanks to an iPad) so, I’ll stop talking about it and talk about something far more interesting. Something super delicious on all sorts of things and so easy to stir up. I’ll talk about this peanut sauce. It’s great with summer rolls, like the ones pictured in my Easy Vietnamese Pickles recipe. It’s also great with carrot or celery or cucumber sticks and with simple grilled chicken. I also think it would be great stirred into pasta and garnished with scallion and chopped peanuts for a cold noodle salad. The best part about this sauce, besides it being so flavorful, is that it comes together with ingredients you may already have in the pantry and refrigerator: zippy lime, salty fish sauce, nutty peanut butter, spicy sriracha, and sweet maple. A little water takes this sauce from a thick paste to a silky sauce, so don’t be worried if it looks like a strange consistency at first. It’s so good! So seriosuly, make it, dip it, mop it, pour it down your gullet (what? why? sorry). Whatever you’re into.

[recipe]

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Easy Spicy Peanut Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

I have used both natural peanut butter and commercial peanut butter for this recipe with great results.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

juice and zest of 1 lime

1 clove minced garlic

1 tablespoon sriracha

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients, except the water. Whisk in enough water to thin to a consistency you like. I use closer to 1/2 cup of water. [/recipe]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Spring Rolls

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Guys, these are DANGER and I’m crushin’ hard.

I mean, they’re so savory, so crisp, so irresistible…I can’t stop thinking about them!

For that crisp, shattering exterior, I use the super-thin spring roll wrappers found in the freezer section of an Asian market. I’m a texture girl and those super thin edges are the money bits. For reals. Most of vegetables are quickly stir-fried to retain some texture in the finished roll…except for the mushrooms, which are cooked down to nutty perfection. Ginger, soy, and fish sauce make an appearance, as well. The dipping sauce is an easy mixture of sriracha, maple syrup, and a teeny bit of fish sauce. These would be perfect for the upcoming game-day, but you might want to make a double batch or more as, in my experience, I never seem to make enough when I share these spring rolls with anyone.

Vegetable Spring Rolls

Makes 2 dozen mini spring rolls. 

There is a great Asian market not far from where I live that stocks fresh/frozen/pantry items from all over Asia. It’s pretty much amazing. I urge you to seek out a market in your area if you haven’t already…there are so many fun ingredients to be found! I used a mini wrapper that they stock, but you could use the regular size. Just use 2-3 times more of the filling per roll. These wrappers are not the translucent rice ones, or the thicker, wonton-like ones. You are looking for the ones that are square and look like the thinnest of crepes. They come frozen, so just leave them in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to defrost. While the wrappers can be delicate to peel apart, they do have some stretch. 

1 quart of oil (I used canola), for frying, plus 2 teaspoons

8 ounces (about 4 loosely packed cups) shredded cabbage

1 small carrot, peeled and julienned or grated coarsely

4 ounces cleaned mushrooms, stems and caps, diced

1/4 large onion, sliced thin

2 loosely packed cups spinach

1 Tablespoon grated, fresh ginger

2 teaspoons fish sauce

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

24 mini spring roll wrappers (or 12 if using regular sized ones)

water for sealing

Dipping Sauce:

3 Tablespoons Sriracha

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon fish sauce, or to taste

In a small bowl whisk together the ginger, fish sauce, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Set aside.

In a very hot wok or large skillet, stir fry the cabbage, carrots, onion, and spinach with 1 teaspoon of oil until the vegetables are just starting to soften and some of the edges start to brown. Scrape the vegetables into a bowl and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, cook the mushrooms with the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt to help release the liquid. Continue to cook the mushrooms until they turn golden brown. Scrape into the bowl with the vegetable mixture. Stir the ginger-soy mixture into the filling mixture to combine. Allow the filling to cool to room temperature before beginning the wrapping process. You can do this step the day before and refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If the filling is wet after refrigerating, just drain the liquid so the spring rolls don’t become soggy. 

Whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl.

Place a spring roll wrapper on a flat surface so that it looks like a diamond, keep the rest of the wrappers covered by a damp tea towel. Place about a tablespoon of filling  on the lower 1/3 of the wrapper, fold the bottom point over the filling and roll 2/3 of the way up. Fold in sides, wet the final point lightly with the water, seal, and place on a plate. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

Heat 1 quart of oil (4 cups) in a high-sided pan (I like to use a wide saucepan with tallish sides), you will know it’s hot enough when you stick a skewer or chopstick into the oil and bubbles immediately form on the stick. Fry the spring rolls in batches until golden and crisp, anywhere from 3-4 minutes. Drain spring rolls on paper towels and serve hot and crisp with the dipping sauce.