With my market bounty still lingering in the fridge, a further Asian-inspired dish is on the menu this week. You’re probably thinking that I have a weird obsession with coriander (cilantro) by this point. You would be right—but I promise I do branch out.
While I try to only post original recipes on this blog, I have to confess that the peanut sauce recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s excellent 30-Minute Meals.
The summer rolls are all mine; the husband and I enjoyed some incredible summer rolls at The Mango Rooms in Hoi An, Vietnam in February—this is my attempt to recreate those babies. They are probably not all that faithful to the originals (that’s because the cocktails at the Mango Rooms are as good as the food) but a girl’s gotta improvise; I didn’t have any Thai basil, so I used European. If you aren’t on a tight budget and are within striking distance of an Asian supermarket, I suggest you splash out—it has a unique flavour that’s hard to recreate and utterly delicious. I like my summer rolls to be chunky, like a sushi hand-roll—and even if I didn’t, I haven’t got the hand-eye co-ordination to make dainty, neat little things. If you have, use smaller rice-paper wrappers and roll tight.
You can add king prawns (shrimp) to make these summer rolls into a standalone starter (appetizer). This oriental salad dressing makes a great dipping sauce; no need to strain this time and you could chuck in a bit of chopped lemongrass for added zing.
Chicken skewers and spicy peanut sauce
2 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
4 wooden skewers
Spicy peanut sauce:
3 tbsp peanut butter (I used smooth as it’s all I have in the cupboard)
Half a bunch of coriander, stalks and all
1 clove of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
1 red chilli, seeds removed
A splash of soy sauce
A dash of cold water
A splash of fish sauce
A splash of rice vinegar
1 tbsp crushed peanuts to garnish
4 rice paper spring roll wrappers (22cm)
One mango, cut into thin slices
A handful of crisp iceberg or little gem lettuce (I used rocket, because it needed to be used up)
The other half of that bunch of coriander, woody stalks removed
A small bunch of Thai basil, leaves only
Two spring onions, cut lengthways into fine slices
One carrot, grated
Four radishes, finely sliced
Soak the wooden skewers in cold water (this is so they don’t burn under the grill). Pop all the ingredients for the peanut sauce into a blender and whizz to a smooth paste. Decant half into a bowl to use as a dipping sauce.
Once the skewers are wet-through, thread on the chicken pieces, taking care not to bunch them up too tightly (or they won’t cook through) and coat with the remaining peanut sauce.
Pop the chicken skewers under a hot grill for 7-8 minutes each side, be careful not to burn the chicken or the skewers!
Meanwhile, soak the rice paper sheets in cold water, according to the instructions (do this one-at-a-time unless you like gloopy, sticky messes). Once soft, carefully place flat on a board and layer the filling in a straight line down the centre of the top half—lettuce first, then coriander, basil, onion, carrot, radish and mango. Fold the bottom half up, over the filling and top half, then wrap the corners around the filling as neatly as you can (don’t worry, it will still taste good whatever it looks like).