There are circumstances in life where, no matter how much you prepare, it is never enough (childbirth suddenly springs to mind)! Although not quite on the same level, my first week at Leiths has felt much this way.
Having said that, I have loved every moment and left every day with a sense of complete satisfaction.
The week has passed by in such a blur of activity; new people, new uniform, new knives (amazing), new kitchen, new methods and an insane amount of new information. I had no idea it was possible to fill three pages of an A4 pad with notes on how to prepare eggs! To be fair this covered boiling, poaching, scrambling, omelettes and custard – but still, three pages on eggs!
Another day was spent on knife skills and I am still getting over the fact that it took a whole afternoon to chop a few carrots, onions and peppers to a uniform size. We did, however move on to pastry by the end of the week so I had something more then crudités to show for my week!
I racked my brains for a recipe that would use the skills I had learnt this week. Mmmm… what to do with a plate of chopped vegetables? I can imagine you all rolling your eyes at the suggestion of vegetable soup, so lets move along swiftly.
Instead, I thought I would share a recipe that was inspired by an informal meal we had on our recent trip to Toronto. As many of you will already know, the diversity in Toronto lends itself well to the food scene. During one lunch we tried Vietnamese sandwiches. I didn’t have any expectations as personally, I think of bread as a filler (I can hear bread lovers gasping in horror as you read this, as did Mr M). However, I was pleasantly surprised – the sandwich was filled with an abundance of fresh vegetables all wrapped in a freshly baked soft bun and finished with a tangy and mildly spiced dressing that bought out the flavours in the vegetables. The flavours worked so well together and left me feeling completely satisfied.
As my version uses rice paper instead of bread, I’ve added lightly stir-fried prawns to make up for the bread. Of course you can also make up with a fresh bread bun (like Mr M) or a wrap.
A delicious way to enjoy your 5 a day! Try them out and please do let me know what you think.
Vietnamese Fresh Rolls
/ Sandwiches / Wraps
(Serves 4 -6 depending on the size of the bread or wrap)
4 medium size carrots – grated or cut julienne
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 tsp of fish sauce
Juice from 1 lime
2 red chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp of olive oil
200g raw king prawns
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Approx. 6 sheets of rice paper sheets or 2-3 wraps or fresh bread buns
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
1 yellow pepper, sliced thinly
100g snow peas, sliced thinly
10-20 sprigs of coriander
Small handful of chives
In a small bowl combine well the following ingredients
– Sesame oil
– Fish sauce
– Juice from half a lime
– Half the chopped chilli
Place the carrots in a large bowl and add the combined ingredients. Have a taste and add more fish sauce and chilli based on your taste. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.B’s tip: Marinating will infuse the spicy, tangy dressing directly into the carrots, so the roll/sandwich is not left soggy by adding the dressing after.
Heat the oil in a wok at a medium heat and add the garlic and remaining chilli. Fry for 30 seconds, shaking the wok to move the chilli and garlic around so they don’t burn. Add the prawns just before the garlic turns brown.
Stir-fry the prawns for 3-4 mins at a high heat or until the prawns turn pink. Once cooked through put aside to cool. Transfer to a cold bowl for quicker cooling time.
Prepare your vegetables ready to fill your rolls (marinated carrots, prawns, red pepper, green pepper, snow peas and herbs)
If using the rice paper, place one sheet of rice paper at a time in a medium bowl of warm water until just softened. Carefully lift from water and place on a clean board. Place 2 sprigs of coriander and some chives in the centre of the rice paper. Top with the prawns and vegetables. Roll to enclose the filling, folding in sides after first complete turn of the roll. Repeat for remaining rolls.B’s tip: Only leave the rice roll in the warm water for a few seconds, pull from the water when the paper still feels somewhat solid. The paper will continue to soften as you place your fillings in the paper and should be completely soft by the time you are ready to wrap up the roll.
If using bread or wraps, fill with prawns and vegetables till comfortably full. If there is any juice left from the carrot marinade, pour this onto the filling.