in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chciken Salad Spring Rolls

Wrapping it up: I know summer is over but a salad is always great. Nearly any occasion or any time of year is right for salad. These Chicken Salad Spring Rolls with dipping sauces are fabulous in the spring and summer but I really enjoy them in the fall and winter as well. They are fresh, light tasting and work great as a make ahead meal, snack or appetizer. The wrappers and the rice noodles will keep in your pantry for quite a while, so these can be made anytime you can get some fresh veggies and basil.
Chicken Salad Spring Rolls
3 cups water
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 rice wrappers
1/4 package thin rice noodles
1 head butter or Boston lettuce
16 fresh basil leaves, approximately
3 green onions 
1 medium cucumber
In a 9 or 10 inch skillet, heat water, chicken, salt and pepper to a boil. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and set aside to cool. Place rice noodles in a glass dish and pour about half of the hot chicken water over them. Allow to sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Leave the remaining water in the skillet. Wash the lettuce and separate the leaves, discarding any hard stalk parts and keeping the soft, delicate parts. Pat dry with paper towels. Wash basil leaves and dry these as well. Clean green onions and slice them into thin rounds. Peel and seed the cucumber, then julienne it. Shred chicken with two forks. Assemble wraps by first dipping a single rice wrapper in the reserved water in the skillet. Soak it for about 15 to 20 seconds and then remove to a smooth work surface. Place a lettuce leaf (or two if they are small) on the wrapper, greenest side down. Top the lettuce with a tablespoon or so of chicken, 1/8 of the softened rice noodles, some of the cucumber and green onions. Finally use a couple of basil leaves on the very top. Pull the lettuce sides up to meet the basil and then warp the whole thing in the rice paper wrapper like a burrito--side in , bottom up, other side in then roll fairly tightly to the top edge. Place on a plate. Repeat with the other 7 wrappers. Chill for at least one hour and serve with Sweet Chili and Peanut dipping sauces.
Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons peanut butter
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayene pepper
Mix all ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Serve at room temperature.

Hot Chili Dipping Sauce
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
Place water and vinegar in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Stir cornstarch into sugar and add to pan. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook and stir for 3 minutes and remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.  

Hints: These can be vegetarian by omitting the chicken and replacing it with more rice noodles or other veggies. Another good alternative is using cooked shrimp. The wrappers and the rice noodles are both available at Smiths Marketplace but I haven't found them at other grocery stores. Of course, they are available at Asian Markets. I use these same rice noodles for Oriental Chicken Salad but flash fry them in peanut oil for that recipe. They are also great under stir fries. The rice wrappers are not too difficult to work with if you take them out of the water before they are too soft. They continue to soften up as you are filling them and as they chill. Try to work quickly before they get too soft and begin tearing; that is why you work with only one at a time and you should have all your other ingredients ready to go before you get the wrappers wet. It may take you one or two rolls to perfect your wrapping skills. It will still taste great even if they look less than perfect. Photos of how to wrap Stuffed Grape Leaves  use the same technique and may be helpful. Add more water to the Peanut Sauce if needed. And up to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes in the Sweet Chili Sauce if you want it very spicy.

I first had one of these type of fresh spring rolls in San Fransisco at The Slanted Door, a wonderful place located in The Ferry Building. I have since had them at several places and liked them so much I needed to be able to make them. It is great to learn how to make your favorite things because it gives you the opportunity to customize them to your liking and makes them available more often! 
Rice wrappers are like thick paper until softened.
Soak in hot water or flash fry.

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