This whole newsletter, one recipe a month has brought the “Betty Crocker” in me. This works well since I spend most of my time writing on my apartment. But, since I’ve beefed up my fitness regimen and started spending more time with my adventurous friends, I’m beginning to opt more for eating-in instead of going out to expensive restaurants. I’ve resorted to surfing the web for quick, nutritious recipes to keep me busy in the kitchen and out of the fast-food merry-go-round. I’m an avid fan of Vietnamese cuisine, so I figured I’d try my hand at Gòi Cuôn, a cold, Vietnamese egg roll. It’s a fresh and healthy recipe full of lean meat and veggies that’s really healthy and definitely within my budget. It’s certainly much cheaper than the Vietnamese take-out, too.
The restaurant makes the dish with shrimp or pork, but I figured I’d add my own flare and this time, try chicken or beef. Also, I had never worked with rice paper which is a roll wrapper made with rice and water, but I began to see it as nothing more than a “rice tortilla,” something to roll my meat and veggies in. The roll can be fried, but I figured that I would skip the extra calories (and dirty pans) and simply keep the dish light and simple.
At first I had no idea how to use rice paper, where to get it or what brand was best, after I did find it. For me, it was easy. I took a short drive to the Vietnamese market in my area and the nice stock boy directed me to the aisle with, what appeared to be, dozens of brands of rice paper. I chose the cheapest brand I could find. I also grabbed some hoisin sauce, some rice noodles, a head of bok choy and a jar of kimchi and headed to the checkout. I couldn’t wait to get home and start my new cooking endeavor. I had some left over chicken in the fridge that might have gone bad had I continued the fast-food regimen. So I used that. I also substituted the lettuce in the dish with the spicy kimchi.
After cooking the noodles and softening the rice paper in warm water, I proceeded to build my Vietnamese dish. I also invited my friends over for a snack, some drinks and some light conversation. Needless to say, the rolls were a hit and the kimchi twist added that extra kick. My friends were so impressed with my way around the kitchen. I have to admit; I was pretty proud of my achievement, too. Based on my friend’s rave reviews, it seems I may be spending a little more time in the kitchen…