I love introducing children and adults alike to new flavours and ingredients that they might not have come across in their cooking adventures.
We're incredibly lucky to have access to a wide and varying supply of ingredients in our supermarkets now, not to mention if you live in a big town or city, the oriental, chinese, middle eastern shops bursting with supplies - that it seems a shame not to embrace these lovely ingredients and explore your cooking boundaries a little further. Pick up that bottle of Pomegranate Molasses, Fish Sauce, tub of Sumac or Rice Noodles and try them out, you're bound to be pleasantly surprised and be inspired for countless new dishes.
With this in mind, I've always tried hard not to choose traditional British dishes for our classes at Q3 Langley. To introduce new ways to prepare and use vegetables that are full of flavour and texture, to bring in new cuisines to the children and broaden food horizons.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls are incredibly quick to put together, but the recipe allows us to refresh our safe knife skills (I am so impressed with how many of the Year 7's chop and prepare their veg, a joy to watch) and also introduce new styles of cutting and preparing, along with some great, fun ingredients - namely those Rice paper wrappers!
Although the dipping sauce might not be to everyone's taste (or smell!) it always makes my week when the children try out what they've made and have a taste, even if they really aren't sure, some then love it (success), some don't, but you can't win everyone over with a bottle of fish sauce!
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
8 round Vietnamese rice paper wrappers
25g dried rice vermicelli; soaked until soft
½ bunch coriander, roughly chopped
½ bunch garden mint, roughly chopped
1 carrot; sliced into batons
½ cucumber; sliced into long batons
½ bunch firm leaf lettuce, shredded
1 small bunch spring onion, thinly sliced
12 small, shelled, cooked prawns; cut in half lengthwise OR smoked Tofu; cut into slices
Soak rice paper wrappers (one at a time) in a shallow dish of cold water for 5 seconds. Lay damp wrapper – smooth side down – on chopping board or work surface.
Place desired quantity of fresh ingredients (mint, coriander, carrot, cucumber) and soft vermicelli at bottom of wrapper.
Place 4 prawns or slices of Tofu near the top edge of the wrapper so they will be visible when rolled. Place spring onion to extend beyond each open side of wrapper.
Tightly roll wrapper from bottom to top, leaving sides open. Carefully slice each wrapped spring roll straight across middle and stand on end. Serve with sweet dipping sauce.
60ml white vinegar
60ml fish sauce
1 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Whisk vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a small bowl. Set the dipping sauce aside.