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Rice Paper Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Rice Paper Rolls with Peanut Sauce
These refreshing rolls make a great warm-weather hors d'oeuvre. At small parties, set out the filling and the rice paper rounds and let your guests assemble their own. Be sure to position a bowl of the peanut sauce alongside. If you cannot find Chinese broccoli, substitute broccoli rabe or broccoli florets.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 green onion, including tender green portion, minced
  • 1 piece lemongrass stalk, 3 inches long, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili paste, or to taste

For the rolls:

  • 1/2 lb. dried rice stick noodles
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. Asian sesame oil
  • 1/2 lb. Chinese broccoli, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cup bean sprouts
  • 24 rice paper rounds, each 6 inches in diameter
  • Fresh mint and fresh cilantro leaves
  • Butter lettuce leaves

Directions:

To make the sauce, in a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, green onion, lemongrass, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce, curry powder, coriander and cumin. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until well blended. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth, thinning with water if necessary. Pour into a bowl and stir in the chili paste. Set aside.

To make the rolls, in a bowl, soak the noodles in hot water to cover for 15 minutes. Drain the noodles and cut into 2-inch lengths. Set aside.

In a wok or large fry pan over medium heat, warm the peanut oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, broccoli and carrot and toss and stir until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the noodles and toss and stir until the noodles are hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the bean sprouts, toss to mix and soften, then set the filling aside to cool.

Working with 1 rice paper round at a time, place the round on a work surface and brush liberally with water. Let stand for a minute or two until pliable. Transfer to a flat plate and place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle. Top with a few mint and cilantro leaves. Turn up two sides and roll into a cylinder. Repeat with the remaining rounds.

Line a platter with lettuce leaves and arrange the rolls on top. Serve with the peanut sauce.
Makes 24 rolls; serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Vegetarian for All Seasons, by Pamela Sheldon Johns (Time-Life Books, 1998).