Handmade Garden Rolls with local Tofu

June 26, 2016

Try your hand at making your own Garden Rolls!  Now that we Portlanders have been thrust into our first summer heat wave, I’ve found myself craving fresh, cool veggies.  Garden Rolls are a great way to get more veggies in your diet, and they’re an awesome addition to any summertime potluck or BBQ.

I have a two recommendations for getting fresh, locally made tofu in Portland.  The first is Ota Tofu, located near the corner of SE Stark and 8th (just east of Slammer Tavern on Stark).  They have a minimal storefront, and when you walk in the door you may feel that you are in the wrong place.  You’re not; I assure you.  Just talk with the staff, and they will get you what you need!  The second is Bui Natural Tofu, located at NE Glisan and 76th.  Bui has a more developed storefront and menu AND phenomenal fried tofu.  Check ’em out, and try the fried green onion tofu and/or the lemongrass tofu!

Ingredients:

Garden Spring Roll
Garden Spring Roll

1 package thin rice noodles
1 package Spring Roll Wrappers
2 Carrots
1 Cucumber
1 package Mung Bean Sprouts (benefits)
1 bunch Cilantro (health benefits here)
4 Spring Onions
1 Order of fried tofu
* Basil optional

Directions:

Fill a medium sized pot with water and bring it to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the rice noodles to let soak for 8-12 minutes (depending on the brand).  Once the noodles are tender then drain them in a colander and rinse them with cold water until they have chilled place them back in the pot with cool water until you’re ready to assemble your garden rolls.  At which point, strain them once more and shake out an excess water.

I suggest using the fried tofu, that way you can just chop it up and add it into your garden rolls.  However, if you choose to cook your own then buy the extra firm variety and pan fry large slices with garlic powder and Chinese 5-spice until browned.  Then let the tofu cool while prepping your veggies.

Slice the cucumber into lengthwise quarters, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon or the back of a knife.  Then, cut them into eight equal lengths, and cut each of these segments into thin, lengthwise slices.

Shred the carrot with the large part of a cheese grater.

Thinly slice all of the spring onions, and roughly chop about 2/3 cup of cilantro.

If you choose to use basil, then I recommend using a chiffonade chop.  Basically, just make a stack of six or so leaves, roll them tightly from one side to the other, then make thin slices perpendicular to the roll.  This renders perfect little ribbons of basil.  DELICIOUS!!!

And the bean sprouts don’t require any prep.

Assembly:

Fill a large plate with 1/4 – 1/2 inch of water

Dip the rice paper in the water a few times to ensure that it is fully wet, then place the rice paper on a cutting board with the closest part of the rice paper propped up on a spoon (this makes the rolling step easier!).  The rice paper will begin to soften quite quickly.

Place small portions of each of the ingredients in the middle of the rice paper, then start rolling by first folding the bottom edge up, then fold in the left and right sides, and finally roll the the whole thing toward the last open side.

Notes:

If you’ll be enjoying your garden rolls soon then you can just place them on a platter, and they’ll be fine for 1-2 hours.  Otherwise, garden rolls keep quite well if you wrap each one individually in plastic wrap.

Garden rolls are amazing with either hoisin, plum sauce, or peanut sauce.  Check out my recipe for peanut sauce here!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

– Casey