So, lunch today was kind of unfair. I had leftover filet mignon from a local butcher and had just devised a recipe for a Thai “peanut sauce” without peanuts. Yes, that means I had filet mignon spring rolls. Yes, filet mignon spring rolls with a sauce I’ve never been able to taste in my life.
I’ve been rather addicted to these things lately. (Spring rolls that is.) Here’s why:
1. They’re easy to make (soak in water and roll!)
2. They’re naturally gluten-free (just rice and tapioca flour)
3. The texture is light and fun
“Fun” is a word to describe taste. Oh yes, should I ever be judge on Master Chef, it will be a criteria.
Since I am a Bubble Child of the sort where I will die in a very literal sense if I consume even a particle of a nut, I have never tasted a Thai peanut sauce. My friends swear by it. It has been something on my list of things to try should I have, say, a definite 1 minute left to live. It’d be great to never check that list off.
With that in mind, it has taken me years, and by years I mean 5, to figure out the right combination of flavor and spice to recreate the traditional peanut sauce. It means seeds, it means turmeric, it even means lemongrass powder if you can find some!
I highly recommend adopting spring rolls into your weekly gastronomic regimen. The shells save so easily and you can fill with whatever your heart fancies. It’s like a bunch of tiny burritos you get to eat in a row without feeling like a giant walking bean.
nut-free thai peanut sauce
2 tbs. grapeseed oil
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. honey or agave nectar (vegan)
1 tsp. tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/8 tsp. turmeric (freshly grated or powdered)
1/8 tsp. lemongrass (freshly grated or powdered), optional
a few dashes your favorite hot sauce
1/4 cup + 2 tbs. water
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Method: Heat oil in saucepan over medium-low heat. Add seeds. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden browned, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool two minutes. Combine with remaining ingredients in blender. Season with salt and/or hot sauce to taste. (Tamari already has salt, so taste before adding extra salt!)
how-to make spring rolls
(a, vegan)– shred and sauté some carrot and radish, blanch, then sauté with ginger, garlic, mint, basil and hot sauce; (b, carnivore)– cook your favorite protein to taste, chop up into fine pieces, then toss with sesame seed oil, mint, basil, ginger and hot sauce
2. LET ‘ER ROLL:
(a) soak one sheet rice paper in water for about 30 seconds, until pliable, then let rest on a clean plate or cutting board for about a minute to dry a bit and get sticky.
(b) place 1-2 tablespoons of filling about 2 inches from top of paper
(c) fold top 2 inches over filling to cover
(d) fold in outer edges to pack filling in tightly
(e) roll over 2-3 times, until any potential holes are covered and filling is secure — trim away extra rice paper
(f) repeat with as many rice papers as you want to turn into spring rolls
Serve with tamari, hot sauce of choice (Sriracha!!!), and/or homemade NUT-FREE thai “peanut” sauce.
*to give an idea of how much filling you’ll need, to make about 6 spring rolls use one large radish and one carrot for vegetarian option, one chicken breast or half a steak for carnivore option.