There are two times when I really miss having a TV. One is when any of the major tennis championships are airing. In this case, Twitter is giving me the play-by-play, which becomes more annoying than missing the match all together. The other time is when I get home from a long day and want to do nothing else but mindlessly flip on the Food Network. Like the Bachelorette has become for certain boys I know (yes, boys), the Food Network was once my dirty little secret. I knew the personalities of every one of the networks’ celebs. I acted like Giada and I were friends, and like Ina Garten would one day invite me to one of her fancy dinner parties. I even got suckered into the crazy reality game shows, which are rarely ever my thing.
A year ago I moved into a new apartment, and with it I got rid of my cable bill. What came next was ridding myself of my Food Network obsession. No more cooking sessions spent in front of a screen watching other people’s cooking sessions. No more drooling over greasy Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives eats — most of which, in reality, I’d never actually want to order. (Also, no more gagging over the way Guy Fieri would inhale those eats himself. Thank god.) No more tensing and clenching from watching people compete over…cupcakes. No more going to bed on an empty stomach from too much food-filled TV. No more Food Network.
While my withdrawal symptoms were brief, I still have a guilty pleasure for the Food Network. Any time I’m near a powered on TV, I try to get the FN on the screen. My mom will tell you, if I’m at her house at night, it’s on, meaning she’s often forced to bear some anxiety through an episode of Chopped.
I visited my mom this past Wednesday, and yes, to her slight displeasure, we watched an episode of Chopped. One of the secret ingredients was spring roll wrappers. A competitor on the show decided to cut them up into noodles. Creative, I thought. But like half of what I see on the Food Network, something I’d never do myself. Spring roll wrappers are just too good in their traditional use of packaging up ingredients that I have little desire to transform them into noodles. I do, however, have a strong and frequent desire to utilize them for summer rolls.
These are my favorite. I order them nearly every time I’m at a spot that serves them, and I try to make the rolls at least a few times per summer on my own, when my ingredients are fresh.
Like the Food Network, they are a pleasure (though not a guilty one) of mine. Working with the rice paper takes some getting used to, but it’s not rocket science by any means. Don’t worry about forming the perfect roll. As long as you’ve got a mix of fresh ingredients sealed inside, you’re good to go.
- -2 Tbsp. safflower oil
- -1 (14 oz.) package extra firm tofu
- -2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- -1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (brush over after pat dry tofu)
- -1 cucumber, thinly sliced
- -5-6 carrots, grated
- -6 radishes, thinly sliced
- -2 avocados, sliced and sprinkled with salt
- -1 head of buttery lettuce, leaves torn
- -5 scallions, diced
- -Mint, large handful
- -Cilantro, large handful
- -12-14 sheets spring roll wrappers
- -Peanut sauce, store-bought or homemade (I whisked peanut butter, hoison sauce, soy sauce, honey, lime, warm water and a touch of sesame oil - didn't measure out the ingredients, sorry!)
- Drain and rinse tofu, and then wrap in a kitchen towel. Place under a weight and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Remove, and cut into approximately 20-25, 1/3-inch strips.
- In large skillet, heat oil over high. Once hot (add drop of water and make sure it sizzles), drop in strips of tofu so that tofu is in a single layer. You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan. Cook until bottom side is brown, 3-5 minutes, and then use a spatula to flip.
- Drizzle soy sauce over the top of the tofu. Cook until both sides are brown and crispy.
- Spread out paper towels on a flat surface, and then place tofu on top. Pat tops of the tofu with extra paper towels. Brush toasted sesame oil on top. At this point, you may want to cut the tofu in half to create thinner strips.
- Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a rice paper wrapper into the water, and let it sit for a few seconds until softened. Meanwhile, prepare a flat cutting board. You may want to place a clean kitchen towel on top, although I wrapped the rolls straight on the cutting board without too many sticking issues. Remove rice wrapper from bowl of water and place flat on the cutting board/towel.
- On the rice paper, and arrange a row of cucumbers, followed by carrots, tofu, radishes, avocado and lettuce on the end closest to you, leaving a little room around the edges. Sprinkle with mint, cilantro and scallions.
- Fold the horizontal sides of rice paper over filling, then fold the edge closest to you over the top and start rolling away from you, to form a roll. Repeat process with the remaining ingredients and rice paper wrappers. Lightly wet a sharp knife and use to cut each roll in half. Serve with peanut sauce, to dip.