Some Independence from Barbecue

Happy Independence Day, everyone! I don’t know about you, but for me, this is always the holiday of the barbecue. Granted, I think that most things taste better when grilled, but I’ve been craving a break from the meat-centric meals of the last few days.

Last night (after a mid-day barbecue at my brother- and sister-in-laws’ house), my husband and I got back home and were dying to eat something light. I still hadn’t managed to use the bok choy from week 1 (oops), but luckily it is a very hardy veg and did just fine in the crisper drawer. One of my favorite combinations is bok choy with peanut sauce over rice vermicelli but I did not have my usual ingredients. It was too late to go to the grocery store, so I got creative. I’ll share with you both what I actually used and what I would normally use, though my creative version came out great!

I originally was going to use rice instead of the vermicelli because I had it on hand. As I was digging through the cabinets trying to find peanut butter, I came across some (old, slightly stale) rice spring roll wrappers and decided to make spring rolls instead of putting the bok choy over rice.

I knew I didn’t want the bok choy to be super hot so I took my time through the cooking process. I started by roasting raw peanuts for the sauce, since my search for peanut butter came up dry. I put 2 teaspoons of toasted sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into a wok and roasted 4 tablespoons of peanuts over medium heat for about 3 minutes (until they are lightly browned) and set them aside to cool.

Meanwhile, I washed and chopped one head of bok choy. I have only ever cooked with baby bok choy and left the leaves whole. Next time, I would definitely slice both the stems and the leaves since they were still quite robust after cooking. Bok choy is a dirty crop, so make sure you give each stem a nice wash in cold water.

I think bok choy is such a pretty vegetable and I love the taste. It reminds me a bit of Brussels sprouts, which makes sense because they are in the same family, with a rich, green taste. After slicing the stems and halving the leaves (though as mentioned above, I would slice the leaves also), I tossed the whole bunch into the remaining oil in the wok along with 3 cloves of garlic, minced finely, and cooked it over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it was softened (about 5-8 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices).

This is the bok choy in the wok before cooking down.

While the bok choy was cooking, I put together the peanut sauce, the recipe for which is at the bottom of this post. After putting together the sauce, I placed it in the fridge to allow the flavors to mingle and the bok choy to continue cooling. Then, I set up my assembly line for spring roll construction:

From left to right we have: (1) a pie plate filled with warm water to soften the spring roll wrappers, (2) a cutting board for the rolling surface, (3) a plate with all the cooked bok choy, and (4) a Pyrex measuring cup with the peanut sauce.

Here’s a roll in progress:

After allowing the wrapper to soften in the warm water, place it on your rolling surface and put about 3 tablespoons of bok choy (I just grabbed a bit with clean fingers) and about 2 teaspoons of peanut sauce just below the mid-line of the wrapper. These are 8″ wrappers; I prefer bigger ones and if you are using more, add enough bok choy and sauce so the proportions are about the same. Then, bring the bottom of the wrapper up over the bok choy and sauce. Fold in each side to make a little envelope. Holding the envelope tightly, roll the whole thing upwards until the entire wrapper has been used. If you press the top edge on for just a few seconds, it should stay together.

For reference, this made 11 spring rolls using the 8″ wrappers (about 3 servings).

If you like, you can use the extra peanut sauce for dipping or serve these as a side dish with grilled meat or veggies (to bring you back to the barbecue).

I hope you have a delightful Monday. Oh, as a celebration of liberty and the democratic process, make sure you weigh in on the beet debate. Voting will “close” at the end of the week!

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Tonight’s Recipe

Peanut Sauce

Adapted from a recipe from the New York Times in the late 1980’s that was given to me by my former housemate

4 tablespoons of peanuts (toasted) [alternatively, use 3 tablespoons of peanut butter if you have it on hand]

  •  1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil for toasting)
  •  chop the peanuts finely after they are cool

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder [alternatively, use 1 tablespoon of minced ginger if you have it or prefer]

Mix all ingredients in a glass mixing bowl and place in the fridge to allow the flavors to mingle. This sauce was originally designed to be used for the dressing of an Asian slaw. It is also excellent over stir-fries, noodles, or as a dipping sauce.

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Happy grilling!

~CM

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One response

  1. Pingback: Some Catching Up… « The Seasonal Epicure

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