I think it’s time to remind you how much I love food stuffed inside starches. Dumplings, potstickers, empanadas, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, manicotti, stuffed shells, calzones, samosas, spring rolls, mochi, pies, turnovers and the list goes on. All cultures seems to have a food like this. Some serve them during holidays as good luck. I just love the hands-on package they come in. All wrapped up and ready to go.
It is also important to remember most of these lovely things come with sauces and dips. And sometimes I think I love the sauce more. The spicy peanut sauce may be one of them. It is the perfect combination of spicy and sweet, especially when eaten with the light and airy spring roll. Thankfully I have a recipe for these, so that you can make them at home.
You will need to venture into the Asian food aisle or, even better (and cheaper), your local Asian market, where you might become overwhelmed with soy sauce options, but will get better quality and selection, as well as cheaper options.
Avocado and Tofu Spring Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
sauce adapted from Love and Olive Oil
1 package tofu
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 pkg vermicelli rice noodles
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped into matchsticks
4 carrots, peeled and chopped into matchsticks or grated
2 avocados, sliced
juice of one lime
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves removed from stems
1 bunch of Thai basil, leaves removed from stems
16 spring roll wrappers (rice or tapioca paper)
1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, mashed into a paste with salt or grated with a microplane grater
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon water
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha chili sauce, to taste
Drain the tofu and either squeeze out the excess liquid by putting it on a mesh splatter guard over a bowl and placing a plate and heavy object ( i.e. box of broth) over it. Allow to drain for 15 minutes. Wrap tofu in two layered and folded paper towels to squeeze until paper towel is dampened.* Slice the tofu in half lengthwise. In a non-stick skillet heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat and add the tofu halves. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove from skillet and slice each half into 8 pieces. Set on a plate with a paper towel to drain the excess oil and allow it to cool.
While the tofu is browning, place the vermicelli noodles in a large pot with a lid. In a kettle or other pot bring about 4 cups of water to a boil. Pour the hot water onto the noodles and put a lid over the pot. Allow them to “steep” for 5 minutes or according to package directions. Drain the noodles. Place the noodles on a clean kitchen towel or several paper towels to pat dry. In a medium bowl add sugar and rice vinegar and stir until most of the sugar is dissolved. Add the noodles to the bowl and toss to coat.
Toss avocado with lime juice in a small bowl.
Fill a large bowl with warm-to-hot water from the kitchen sink. Prepare your work station in order of use (herbs, noodles, carrots, cucumbers, avocados, tofu). These next steps, must be done quickly.(Once the wrappers are dunked in the warm water, you must move quickly adding the ingredients.) Dunk a spring roll wrapper in the warm water and submerge for only 2-3 seconds. On a clean cutting board, lay the wet wrapper flat. Place 3-4 Thai basil leaves and about 1-2 teaspoons of cilantro leaves on the upper center of the wrapper. Next place a small bunch noodles (about the size of 2 tablespoons) on top of the herbs. Now layer on about a tablespoon of grated or matchsticks carrots and cucumbers. Place one to two slices of avocado on next. Finally place a piece of tofu on top of the pile. Carefully, fold the top of the wrapper over the pile and then the sides. Now roll the spring rolls tightly. Set aside and continue with the rest of the spring rolls. For a more detailed tutorial go to White On Rice Couple.
In a medium bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, water and Sriracha and whisk together. If the sauce is too thick add a little more water.
Serve the spring rolls with the spicy peanut sauce and enjoy.
*Instead of draining the tofu for 15 minutes you can wrap the tofu in paper towel and squeeze, repeating until fairly dry. I dislike this method because it uses so many paper towels.