By: Mrs. FrugalEnginerds
When I was growing up, my family didn’t have the luxury of going out for leisure, if we ever did was either to weddings or funerals, of course, the obligatory events, and even those were rare. Our weekends consisted of home-cooking, extra curricular activities, and/or doing house chores. My mother tasked each one of us with a chore based on our availability or luck of the draw. Mine was mostly cooking. It was an easy task for me as opposed to doing five loads of laundry or mopping the floors. Even though I was no more than fifteen at the time, I was already handling cleavers and knives like a real butcher [Mr. FEN said this was one of the reasons why he was fond of me, not sure if it was out of fear or genuine love]. I didn’t hate the fact that I had to cook for my entire family, nor did I love it. It was my way to contribute within my best ability. However, one of my fondest memories about having family dinner was how much I enjoyed everyone’s presence. We didn’t have a lot but we had each other and a lot of pretty darn good meals to reminisce.
For a short while, The FrugalEnginerds family has practiced turning our weekends into “home-cooking family time” [A family that cooks together, stays together]. One of our all-time favorite dishes is Gỏi Cuốn, or Vietnamese Spring Rolls. This simple dish is light, healthy, and refreshing and it doesn’t require a lot of cooking. It’s great for dinner parties. I can eat this dish all day, especially the sweet-creamy peanut butter dipping sauce…It’s absolutely addicting!
Recipe for Vietnamese Spring Rolls, serves 2 for a full meal (~ 10 rolls) or 5 for appetizers
- ½ pound of medium sized shrimp, deshelled, deveined and sliced in half
- ½ pound of pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
- 2 ounce of vermicelli noodles (optional)
- ½ bunch of fresh lettuce [green leaf/butter/romaine]
- Handful of assorted fresh herbs, basil, mints and/or cilantro
- 3 small cucumbers, julienned
- ½ large carrot, julienned (optional)
- 10-12 pieces of rice wrapping papers
Ingredients for peanut butter dipping sauce:
- 4 Tbsp. of peanut butter, (creamy or extra crunh, I like mine crunchy)
- 2 Tbsp. of hoisin sauce
- 1 Tbsp. of soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. of sugar
- 1 Tbsp. of distilled vinegar
- 1 cup of water
- Small amount of minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. of olive oil
- ½ Tbsp. of Sriracha sauce for taste
- Cooking the proteins: Wash shrimp, devein, and cook it in a small boiling pot of water. Cook shrimp for 5 minutes, let it cool before start deshelling, then slice it into halves. Set aside.
In a separate small pot, boil pork tenderloin in water for 35 minutes, let it cool, then slice into thin pieces. Set aside. Tips: In order to produce a white, light colored piece of pork, add 2 tablespoons of white cooking wine and 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar in boiling water.
- Preparing vegetables: To save time, while pork is cooking, wash, dry, cut, and arrange vegetables on a big platter. Set platter on table at a central location for easy access from all corners.
- Making the noodles: Typically the vermicelli noodles come in a packet, these dried strands and would require a short amount of cooking time (like spaghetti). In a boiling pot of water, use one serving of noodles, boil for 5-7 minutes depending on the size of strands (I use small strands, 5 minutes). Once noodles is cooked, pour it into a drainer. Thoroughly rinse noodles under cold water, set aside to drain and dry.
- Wrapping the rolls: In a big bowl of warm water (or for $7.99, you can invest in a rice paper container, as pictured above), dip in rice wrapping paper for about 10 seconds, then place it on a flat work surface or serving plate, wait until it slightly soften and pliable, then pile in the ingredients 1/3 way from the edge, and start rolling. These rice wrapping papers are a bit sticky, it’s best to use plastic wrap if you wish to separate them and store for later use. Do not refrigerate these rolls longer than 3 hours, the rice paper will get hardened and will lose its texture.
- Making the peanut butter dipping sauce: In a saucepan, cook garlic in oil, stir until slight golden, pour in peanut butter, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and a bowl consists mixture of vinegar, water, and sugar. Stir all ingredients together, bring to boil then reduce to very low heat. Stir slowly until sauce becomes pasty (about 3 minutes). Add more water if it’s too pasty or more hoisin sauce for tasting preference.
- Pickling radishes/carrots (optional): Here’s my quick take on pickled carrots recipe. Julienne 1/2 large carrots, in a big bowl, pour in 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar, mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Then submerge carrots in the bowl, mix well and let it pickle for at least 30 minutes before serving.
|1/2 lb of shrimp @$4.79/lb||$2.25||10 spring rolls @$2.00/each||$20.00|
|1/2 lb of pork tenderloin @$4.89/lb||$2.45||Ingredients||$0.00|
|Green leaf lettuce @$1.09/bunch||$0.55||tax (10%)+ tips (15%)||$5.00|
|1/2 carrot @ $0.99/lb||$0.25||TOTAL||$25.00|
|1 bunch of basil||$0.99|
|1/4 pack of vermicelli noodles @$1.39/packet||$0.35|
|1/4 jar of peanut butter @$3.79/jar||$0.95|
|Rice paper @$1.39/packet||$0.20|
|tax + tips||$0.00|