I always set out all the fixings, and each guest assembles her/his own. I always find that this setup makes dinner easy and fun. When you're on a special diet, it also makes eating with friends a bit easier. No one questions your food choices, and everyone has fun creating unique roll combinations. I made mine vegetarian, but traditional Vietnamese rolls feature thin slices of pork belly or shrimp along with rice noodles. These anti-inflammatory rolls were made with thin slices of browned tofu and soba for extra heartiness. Cucumbers were perfect for crunch and their anti-inflammatory properties. Lastly, carrots provided wonderful lutein for eye health.
Soba and Tofu Spring Rolls
1 block of extra firm tofu
2 carrots, shredded
1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1 head of red leaf lettuce, washed
soba noodles, cooked and cooled
rice paper wrappers
Drain and dry the tofu, squeezing out any excess water. Divide the block into equally sized rectangles (approximately 8-10). Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil into a hot pan. Lightly pan fry the tofu slices until sides take on a golden color and a slightly crisp texture. Transfer the browned slices onto a paper towel and cool until room temperature. Slice the tofu into thin strips.
Submerge one sheet of rice paper into warm water, and then place the wet sheet onto a plate. Arrange your roll's contents in the center of the wrapper. I like to start with a small piece of lettuce, then layer on a small amount of soba noodles, carrots, cucumber, and tofu. Bring up one edge of the wrapper and fold it over the contents. Then lift up the right and left sides, one at a time, to the center. (It should remind you of an open envelope.) Finally, roll the rest into the final open seam. With practice, you'll become a master roller. The key is to keep your contents manageable--otherwise, you will burst the rice paper.
(soy ginger dipping sauce)
1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Thai chili, thinly sliced into rounds
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
For extra kick, allow the ginger and chili to steep in the liquid.