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New Discovery!

Don't you love it when you discover a great new tool to have in your back pocket.  You feel like you've just conquered or achieved something great don't you?  I've had a couple of moments like this in my life: when I created my pumpkin spice latte recipe, the first time I made a GF cheesecake, and when I figured out how to do a great GF mac and cheese (future post).  Notice how these aren't super-complicated dishes; they're pretty basic.  Mastering new basics is one of my favorite things about the cooking process.  This week I discovered a new one...rice paper wrappers.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, it's these things:

Dude, these things rock!  Granted, too much exposure to water and they'll eventually break down, but (IMO) they're stronger than the flour spring roll wrappers and easier to manage.  Score!  How have I never discovered these things before now?

Okay, there's not really a proper recipe today because, as I said, this is more of a method.  I'll tell you what I did, though.

First, I julienned three medium turnips and two zucchini.  I used my mandoline for this because it's a lot faster and makes everything nice a uniform.  I also found out that the julienne slice only really works on the two smallest width settings on my mandoline, but yours may be different.

I also browned up a pound of chicken in some water because I find using a little water in the pan helps the meat to crumble better.  I actually wanted pork since pork is so common in Asian cuisine, but the farm didn't have any, so I compensated with spices (see below).  I also added a tsp of salt to the chicken - I follow the 1 tsp salt per pound of meat rule.

Now for the spices.  Are you ready?  Here we go...1 tsp honey, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 to 1 tsp Siracha (depending on how spicy you like it), 1/2 tsp garam masala, and 1 tsp cumin.  You can spice up filling any way you like, though, so play with it.

Next comes the veggies.  You don't really want to cook them for too long, just long enough to soften them up.  I added another big pinch of salt to these guys too.

Fun fact: I don't have a cover that fits my ceramic nonstick pan.  That's when I get creative and place a splatter screen over the top and then put an inverted plate on top of that.  It traps enough moisture to steam the veggies.  Leave this for 5 minutes.

Now comes the part that I always considered the worst...until now.  Assembly!  FYI, with rice wrappers, you have to soften them up before working with them, so I filled a plate with water and then submerged them for 30 seconds to a minute.

To assemble, lay the softened rice wrapper out on a plate and put a large spoonful of filling in the upper third-center of the wrapper.  Fold the sides in, then the top, and then roll the whole package over and over itself until you reach the end.  If you assemble fast enough, everything should still be hot and you can eat them straight off the plate.  It took me a few times to get the hang of it, though, so mine got cold.  Can you guess which one was my first? ;-p  To reheat, you can either steam them or pop them in the microwave with a cover for 30 seconds to one minute.

Warning: The rice wrappers will stick to each other, so be sure to keep each roll separate.

You can also deep fry your rolls at 350 degrees for a minute or two if you want.

I cannot tell y'all how much I love this new tool!  Think of the possibilities!  Beef and cheese with onions, shredded cabbage with mushrooms and a few drops of dark sesame oil, sliced pork with chilli powder and corn.  Mmmmm!  Man, I'm excited to try all of these!  I hope you are too!

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