We have been having some pretty strange weather in Melbourne, but this week at least it seems to be Summer again. One of my favourite foods when it gets hot is Vietnamese rice paper rolls, they’re light and zesty, but also filling and require little standing over a hot stove. I’ve tried many different ingredients in rice paper rolls over the years, but really love the addition of this creamy almond butter satay sauce. Many satay sauces you buy in jars or out at restaurants are made with low quality ingredients, and are loaded with oil and sugar. It may seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that generally restaurants choose ingredients for their maximum taste and minimum cost. Unfortunately, your health is not their number one priority (there are some great exceptions, thankfully)! As always, the benefit in making food from scratch is being able to monitor what you and your family eat… It tastes better too!
The use of almonds in this sauce makes it a bit lighter and less fatty (though definitely not fat free) and, of course, it’s great for the peanut-free crowd. I love an adaptable recipe, and this is definitely one. I’ve included some alternative filling ideas below the recipe. You could always omit the satay sauce and use a ginger soy dipping sauce which requires no cooking at all – good for those 40+ degree days!
Almond Satay Rice Paper Rolls
The traditional addition of sugar in the satay sauce is entirely optional, it will still be delicious if you omit it. You can either put the satay sauce inside your roll or use it as a dipping sauce. For those not inclined to make the rolls, or if making ahead or packing leftovers, the ingredients below make a great Vietnamese noodle salad: just toss all the roll ingredients (minus the satay and rice paper sheets) in individual bowls or a large serving platter and serve with warmed satay sauce on the side for everyone to help themselves.
Almond Satay Sauce
1 small brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1/4-1/2 tsp of dried crushed red chilli flake (+ more to taste)
1 tbls extra virgin olive or coconut oil
3 tbls natural almond butter
1 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
1 tsp fresh turmeric root, grated
270ml coconut cream
1 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp panela (rapadura) or coconut sugar (optional; if desired)
1/4 tsp salt (+ more salt and black pepper to taste)
juice of half a lime
Rice Paper Rolls
100g vermicelli noodles (rice or mung bean), cooked as per packet instructions
300g firm tofu, sliced into thin batons
1 large carrot, grated or julienned
1 large red capsicum (pepper), finely sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, julienned
1 cup fresh herbs such as basil, coriander (cilantro), mint, Vietnamese mint
1/4 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sprouted mung beans (1 cup bean sprouts)
1 packet of dried rice papers
For the almond satay: Over a medium heat, panfry the onion and garlic in the oil till softened, about 3 min. Add the ginger, turmeric, almond butter and stir through the coconut cream till combined. Simmer till combined and a thick sauce, 1 min. Remove from heat and add the tamari, panela (if using), lime juice and salt and pepper. Add a little water, a teaspoon at a time, if you prefer a runnier consistency. Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the rolls: Lay all the ingredients out on your table for people to help themselves. Place some hot water in a wide bowl or two for people to dip their papers in. To assemble, submerge a rice paper in the water bowl for a second or two, place on your plate and add your toppings to the middle in a horizontal fashion (see pic above). For ease of rolling, try to be light handed with the toppings (it’s hard when you’re hungry, I know!). By the time you’ve chosen your toppings the rice paper will be soft enough to roll. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper up and over the filling, then fold in both sides, and finish by rolling it away from you to seal. The rolls will keep a few hours under a damp tea towel at room temperature (don’t refrigerate as the rice paper will dry out). See recipe notes for make ahead alternative.
Other topping ideas: Thinly sliced avocado, thinly sliced organic omelette, caramalised onions, roasted cashews, thinly sliced mango, iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tempeh, sliced snow peas, sautéed mushrooms, etc.