Whether for health reasons or by choice, people are adopting gluten-free products if not a full gluten-free diet.
As a number of ingredients used in asian cooking especially sauces are not wheat free, Laura B. Russell who has followed a gluten-free diet since 2004 got to work to help us deal with these road blocks.
The result is The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen (Celestial Arts/ Ten Speed Press, 2011) which is scheduled to hit the shelves of your favorite bookstore on August 23.
Since book landed on my desk yesterday, give me some time to study it before I comment on it.
In the meantime, here's a recipe you try your hand at this week-end.
Salad Rolls with Crab and Spicy Mango Sauce
serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Don’t let working with rice paper intimidate you; I promise it will be old hat after you finish the first few rolls. Besides, you’ll want to master the technique as part of your gluten-free arsenal. Once you learn the process, you can craft salad rolls using any ingredients you like, even ones that aren’t Asian!
3 ounces dried rice vermicelli
3/4 pound cooked, picked crabmeat (do not use imitation crab; it usually contains gluten)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 small red bell pepper, cut into very thin slices
1 cup shredded lettuce, such as butter or Boston
1/2 cup shredded daikon radish
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
16 (8- to 9-inch-diameter) rice paper wrappers (also called spring roll wrappers or spring roll skins), made from rice flour or tapioca flour
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles. Remove the pan from the heat and let the noodles stand in the water until tender, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness. Drain the noodles in a colander and then rinse with cold water. Squeeze any excess water from the noodles. Cut them into shorter lengths with scissors and then transfer them to a large bowl.
Add the crab, carrots, bell pepper, lettuce, radish, cilantro, and mint to the noodles and toss until well combined. Add the lime juice and fish sauce and toss once more.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Put two of the rice paper wrappers in the water and soak until pliable, about 30 seconds. Carefully remove the wrappers from the water and set them on a clean kitchen towel. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the filling on the lower third of each rice paper wrapper and arrange the filling, crosswise, into a log, leaving about a 1-inch border. Bring the lower part of the wrapper up over the filling to enclose it. Fold in the sides of the wrapper over the filling, and then roll into a tight cylinder. Press lightly to seal the edges. Transfer the finished rolls to a platter and cover with a damp paper towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. The rolls can be assembled several hours ahead. Cover them with a damp paper towel ,then plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Serve with the mango sauce or peanut sauce .
Variations: Instead of crab, use cooked chicken (I even use store-bought rotisserie chicken sometimes, assuming it’s gluten free), bulgogi (page 000), shrimp, tofu, or grilled pork. You will need about 2 cups of bite-sized pieces of any of these.
Spicy mango sauce or peanut satay sauce, for serving (recipes below)
Spicy Mango Sauce
makes about 11/2 cups
11/4 cups diced fresh or frozen mango (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs removed
3/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the mango, cilantro, vinegar, ginger, oil, jalapeño, and salt in a blender. Puree until smooth. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
Peanut Satay Sauce
makes about 2 cups
Use this versatile peanut sauce not only as a dip for grilled satay skewers, but also as the backbone for Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken and Peanut Sauce (page 000). The sauce contains a little bit of heat, but you can cut back on it or eliminate it altogether if you think it will scare the kids. The sauce keeps for days, but inevitably thickens as it sits. You can thin the sauce with a little coconut milk, water, or gluten-free chicken broth.
1/2 cup no-stir organic peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari GF
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoons Sriracha or other chili-garlic sauce GF
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 cup water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, more if needed
In a small saucepan, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, mirin, Sriracha, and coriander. Stir in the water. Heat the ingredients over moderate heat, stirring to combine. Do not let the sauce boil or it will separate. The consistency of the sauce should be pourable, but it will likely thicken as it sits. When the peanut sauce is hot, stir in the lime juice. Taste the sauce and add a little more lime juice if you like more acidity. The sauce will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for about 1 week.
Follow Laura's adventures in a wheat free world at Notes from a Gluten-Free Kitchen
(* Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen: Recipes for Noodles, Dumplings, Sauces, and More. Copyright © 2011 by Laura B. Russell, Celestial Arts, an imprint of Ten Speed Press and the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo Credit: Leo Gong)