Fresh Vietnamese Tofu Spring Rolls
(Courtesy of Dat Vong, owner of Pho Vietnamese cuisine restaurant in Reno. They serve 4 to 6.) These spring rolls are one of the most popular appetizers, Vong says. They are fairly easy to make and light and fresh to eat. Spring Rolls 8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
6 to 8 rice wrappers (31 cm)
12 to 16 pieces tofu, fried or steamed (whatever firmness you desire)
¼ cup vegetable or canola oil (if frying tofu)
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
½ head iceberg lettuce, chopped Peanut Sauce 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1½ cups water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch Bring medium saucepan of water to boil. Cook rice vermicelli noodles in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes or until noodles separate, and drain. Rinse with cold water for 30 seconds and drain. Set aside noodles to cool and let excess water drain off. Chop lettuce, mint, cilantro, and Thai basil. Place in bowl and set aside. Choose your tofu (soft, medium, firm, or extra firm) and type (fried or steamed). Carefully remove tofu block from package without damaging it. Drain excess water and remove as much moisture as possible from tofu. Cut tofu block into ½-by-1½-inch rectangular cubes. Remove excess water. For fried tofu, heat ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil in frying pan. Keep your heat at medium temperature. One by one, place tofu cubes into hot oil. (Oil is extremely hot.) Allow each piece to fry to golden color before flipping over. Test and flip one piece at a time. After both sides of tofu are fried to your liking, remove and place on a paper towel or chef’s cloth to drain excess oil. Set tofu aside to cool. For steamed tofu, fill a medium saucepan with water, and bring to boil. Place tofu cubes in steaming basket, and place basket into boiling water. Cover saucepan with lid or foil. Reduce heat to medium and let tofu steam for 5 minutes. Remove lid or foil cover and steaming basket from saucepan. Remove tofu cubes from steaming basket and place on paper towel or chef’s cloth to drain excess water. Set tofu aside to cool. Fill small saucepan with 1¼ cups water. Add and mix peanut butter and hoisin sauce. Bring to boil. In bowl, mix 4 tablespoons water and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Pour that mixture into sauce and mix to desired thickness. Turn off heat. Set sauce aside to cool. Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one rice wrapper into warm water for 30 seconds or until softened. Lift and let excess water drip off. Lay rice wrapper flat on a clean cutting board. On the lower portion of the wrapper, place 2 pieces of tofu, a handful of vermicelli noodles, basil, mint, cilantro, and lettuce. Leave about 2 inches of uncovered wrapper on each side. Fold bottom wrapper over filling, while holding filling together with your fingers. Start rolling in tight cylinder. Stop rolling about halfway up wrapper, then fold uncovered sides inward. Continue to roll wrapper in tight cylinder until roll is complete. Repeat steps with remaining ingredients to make more spring rolls. Set spring rolls aside until ready to serve. Spring rolls are best served fresh, but you can wrap them in plastic wrap or cover them with a damp towel or cloth and refrigerate them (up to an hour). Serve spring rolls with peanut sauce and finely chopped peanuts on top.

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