I was tempted to buy some sheets of rice paper and some rice noodles last time I was grocery shopping. I had a hankering for Asian salad rolls. I haven't made them for years; we used to make them at the catering company I worked for just after I finished culinary school. I remembered the basics, and worked from there.
I had a few problems rolling them, they just wouldn't stay as tightly rolled up as I would have liked! So it was a bit of a messy dinner, but very yummy!
Start out by marinating the pork tenderloin. I had 2 small tenderloins, but that gave us leftovers for lunch...two days in a row!
In a small bowl, combine:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
zest of half a lime
zest of half a lemon
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
pinch of chili flakes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons olive oil
Whisk together to combine.
Place the pork tenderloin into a resealable bag and add the marinade.
Close the bag, pressing out as much air as you can. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Grill the pork, reserving the marinade.
Put the marinade into a small pot and bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes.
When the pork is cooked, and has rested for 5 - 10 minutes, thinly slice it and set it aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
Break the rice noodles up into smaller pieces if you like. Place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them to sit and soften, this takes about 10 - 15 minutes.
When the noodles are ready, drain the excess water off and toss them with the boiled marinade. Just add enough to coat the noodles. If you have any left, throw it out.
Prepare the other salad roll fillings. I used:
baby romaine lettuce
thinly sliced green onions
sliced red pepper
Now to assemble the salad rolls...Have a large shallow dish of warm water ready to soak the rice paper, as well as all of the filling ingredients, and a dish to put the ready to eat salad rolls onto.
The rice paper rounds I bought were about the same size as a 10" tortilla. They are quite brittle, so handle them carefully.
Lay one piece of rice paper into the warm water, and leave it to soak until it starts to soften and become pliable, anywhere from 15 - 30 seconds. Remove it from the water and lay it on the counter. Add the next piece to the water while you fill and roll the first.
Layer the fillings in the centre of the rice paper.
Place the meat on the bottom.
Then add the vegetables.
Lastly add a layer of rice noodles and then top that with lettuce.
Roll everything up by pulling the long side closest to you over the filling.
Tuck the sides in.
Roll up, holding the filling in as you go, until you have your salad roll.
Serve the salad rolls with peanut sauce, sweet chili sauce, soy sauce or any other favourite dipping sauce.
- Since I made these I found out that part of the reason I had a hard time rolling them up nice and tight was because I added the marinade to the noodles. I did that to add another layer of flavour. The rolling is easier when the noodles are left plain and stick together a bit; this helps to hold it all together as they also stick to the rice paper. Despite being a bit messy to eat, they still tasted good!
- Use leftover cooked chicken, pork or beef. Use cooked shrimp or prawns. Any meat works, and using up leftovers is what meals like this are all about.
- The vegetables are your choice. Green onions and carrots are a good base to work with; add other available or favourite vegetables. Cutting the vegetables into small pieces is key; they are difficult to eat when they are cut into large pieces.
- Try the following: bean sprouts, snow peas, enoki mushrooms or thinly sliced mushrooms, finely shredded Savoy cabbage or spinach.
- Tofu can be used instead of meat. Dice it and marinade it before cooking it, either stir fried or roasted. This allows the flavours of the marinade to penetrate.
- If you make the salad rolls ahead of time, make sure they are well wrapped so that the rice paper doesn't dry out.
- Extra noodles can be served as salad for lunch. Toss with chopped fresh vegetables such as cucumber, carrots and cherry tomatoes and add in a bit of the meat if you also have some leftover.
- For an easy peanut sauce, see the post Coconut and Lemongrass Brined Pork Tenderloin with Asian Noodle Salad.