• The Retired Firehouse Cook 4-24-09: Thai Spring Rolls

    I was sitting there at the Farmers Market, minding my own business (which was people-watching) when Iris Peppard, the director of the Market, began setting up a tent next to where I was helping Marge Ann promote this newspaper. I was the paper weight, in case you didn’t notice.
    Well, Iris not only set up a screen room tent, she set up a whole kitchen and proceeded to do a cooking demonstration using products purchased there (with two notable exceptions – the rice noodles and the rice paper rolls). Not only did she show everyone how to make Thai Spring Rolls, but they passed around the results as they were being made. And the recipe.
    So if you missed out on the demonstration or the samples or both, here’s the recipe Iris used for the spring rolls:

    Thai Spring Rolls With Peanut Sauce

    Rice stick noodles
    Rice paper rolls
    Lettuce, cabbage, carrots, cilantro, radishes — your choice

    ½ c. peanut butter
    2 Tbsp. soy sauce
    2 green onions, chopped
    Dash of hot red pepper flakes
    ¼ c. water

    Cut up all the vegetables as thinly as possible and set aside. Somewhere at a garage sale I got a little shredder/slicer/grater board thingie that works great for jobs like this if you’re a danger to yourself and others with a knife.
    Mix all the ingredients for the peanut sauce together and set it aside. When I make peanut sauce for my gado-gado, I find a little heat helps everything go together more easily.
    Cook the rice noodles in boiling water until they’re pliable, take the noodles out of the water and save the water in a low pan, like a little frying pan, on low heat.
    Put a rice paper roll in the hot water for just a moment to make it pliable and take it out, letting the water drip off, and lay it out flat on your prep board. Iris said this is the hardest step and she didn’t have an easier way to do it. She wore rubber gloves, of course, but I doubt if they were much proof against the stove. So don’t have the water too hot or you’ll burn yourself.
    Load up the roll with veggies and peanut sauce, fold in the ends and roll it up. Eat it.
    I might suggest making extra peanut sauce for dipping. Never having ordered them in a Thai restaurant, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of extra peanut sauce on the side, but that’s how they were served when we were in Cambodia a couple of years ago.

    Next week will be the seed and cutting exchange at the Farmers Market. I hope to find something the deer and raccoons won’t eat out of my yard. So far, that list consists of burr clover, calla lilies and lots and lots of sticks and pine cones from the ancient trees in the front yard.
    I overheard Iris telling someone that the next cooking demonstration will be a chef from Pebble Beach.
    Now that the weather seems to have warmed up a bit (only a bit) the odds are that it won’t rain on you at the Farmers Market the way it did for the first three months of the year. I swear, every Monday it poured or was freezing or so windy they had to tie the beets to the table. Last Monday we baked in the sun, but I’ll bet there were three times the people there. That, to me, is the best part about going to the Farmers Market: People watching. Lots of folks stopping by our table to talk about news stories and comment on my recipes. I’d like to have people share their favorites, too, so if you come next week and don’t have a seed or cutting to exchange, at least think about bringing me a recipe and a story about it. I’ll be there. I’m the guy sitting in the shade with the sunglasses on.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on April 24, 2009

    Topics: Current Edition, The Retired Firehouse Cook


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