Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thai Spring Rolls with Asian BBQ Chicken

A few weeks ago, we went to try a new restaurant in town and got their spring rolls as an appetizer.  After that, I was craving them like crazy.  We'd made them before, I knew how simple they were, but I couldn't remember why the hell we didn't eat these largely phallic delicious, nutritious goodies more often!  (Perhaps because I like to mention to my hetero life mate how phallic they are?  Could be.)

I almost feel guilty even posting this as a recipe (especially without a peanut sauce recipe), because there's really nothing to it, it's just baking some chicken, chopping up veggies, cooking some noodles, and rolling them up.  But I don't know many people who make spring rolls at home... and maybe it's because they didn't know how easy they were. 

A note about the peanut sauce: I can't really post a recipe for it, simply because I used a random recipe I found online for a non-cook peanut sauce, and it came out like peanut butter with garlic in it.  So, rather than tossing it, I thought I'd try to save it... I threw it in a pot, put it on the stove, added more coconut milk, more soy sauce, more fish oil, some rice vinegar, and more garlic.  However, in my haste to not waste almost a whole jar of peanut butter, I didn't write down what I added.  It actually came out pretty tasty, but I can't even begin to guess at measurements.  So... you could go to your local Asian store and buy a peanut sauce, or you could find a recipe on line to make one.  I'll have to find a different way of making one and post it later.

I think I posted a Fugazi song a few recipes back, but I heard their song "Ex-Spectator" the other day and had forgotten how much I loved it.  And... you could make these spring rolls with tofu or just veggies, so it could very easily and deliciously be a vegetarian dish that even Ian MacKaye could love. -jen

  • 3 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisen sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons Thai peanut sauce
  • bean thread (or cellophane) noodles
  • rice paper wrappers
  • butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped into matchsticks
  • whole basil leaves
  • whole mint leaves
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (this helps clean up tremendously.)  Peel the skin back from the chicken thighs and place a tablespoon of Hoisen on the chicken, coating the top of it (this gives it that barbecue taste).  Place skin back over the chicken.  Sprinkle each thigh with a tablespoon of soy sauce, and then rub a tablespoon of peanut sauce over each chicken skin.  Bake on lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, until inner temp reaches 160 or until juices run clear.  Allow to cool.

Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and discard, then take the meat off the bone and place meat into a food processor.  Grind the meat until it is finely chopped (but don't process it too much or it'll turn into a paste!)  It should be about the same consistency as canned tuna or chicken.  Set aside.

Cook noodles according to package (usually at a boil for 12-15 minutes, until clear and al dente).  Drain and set aside.

Prepare rice paper one at a time.  Take a large dinner plate or pie plate and add hot water.  Press the dry wrapper into the water and using your finger tips, gently move the wrap back and forth a little until it reaches an edible pliability (about 30 seconds).  Carefully, so as not to tear the wrap, remove it from the water and lay on counter top, cutting board, or even a kitchen towel.  Wrapper will be wet, but dries quickly.

Arrange your vegetables in your wrap.  I found the best way was to put two layers of lettuce on the bottom, being sure that you leave about 1" of wrapper on each side (like you would for a burrito, so you can tuck the ends in).  Add a layer of the basil and mint leaves.  Then your chopped scallions, followed by the cucumber matchsticks and the shredded carrot.  Take a handful of noodles and shape them to fit over your vegetables.  Then mold 3-4 tablespoons of the ground chicken on top of the noodles.

Pull the bottom of the wrapper tightly (but carefully!) over your filling, give it a roll, tuck in the left and right sides, and finish rolling.

You'll want to place a damp paper towel over your finished rolls as you make them.  And I found a good way to store them is by wrapping them in damp paper towels and putting them in a Ziploc bag.

Serve with a peanut sauce for dipping.  Makes about 8 spring rolls.

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