If you have eaten at a Vietnamese restaurant more than a few times, you have probably encountered this particular item in one appetizer dish or another. These semi-translucent circles are made from a very thin batter made with rice flour that is poured into bamboo trays and then dried, usually in the sun. The trays are generally made with a lattice of bamboo and this leaves a visible impression on the dried sheets, as you can see above. The dried discs originate in Vietnam, where they are known as ‘Bánh tráng’, and I have always thought this is probably a better name for them, even in the west, as ‘rice paper’ actually has several different (non-culinary) meanings.
Rice paper was, for a long time, generally only available in Asian stores in larger urban centers in the west, but they have become much more widely available these days. They actually come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and there are even types with different textural and flavor additives like sesame seeds, or dried shrimp to be found. For this post, however, we will be focusing on the basic form, which is the most widely known and commonly available… Continue reading “Foodstuff: Rice Paper Wrappers”
Today’s dish will use a few nice thin slices of the Beef Tataki I prepared the other day and will also incorporate some sprouts grown by my wife as part of her on-going sprouting experiment. I have taken as my inspiration a Japanese preparation known as Negimaki in which grilled beef slices are rolled around a central filling (usually, but not exclusively, scallions). In this case, however, the beef strips I am using have only been lightly seared and are thus, for all intents and purposes, largely raw… Continue reading “Tataki Appetizer Rolls”
Negimaki, or beef rolls, are fairly common on Japanese restaurant menus and there are many variations on the basic theme. I have had them stuffed with asparagus before, and also with just scallions, but enoki mushrooms are also a favorite.
The rolls pictured above were served to me at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa not long ago and I thought I would share them with you, not because they were particularly special, but because I would like to experiment with the same idea sometime in the near future. Ken’s version was simply very thin slices of beef wrapped around some enoki mushrooms and a bit of scallion. They were not the prettiest I have ever seen by any means, nor plated especially well, but they were actually much tastier than they look.
The sauce was basically a soy-mirin composite, but it is clear that the chef used the mixture to de-glaze the pan used to fry the rolls as the rich, beefy flavor was clearly apparent. Beef sliced this thinly can be difficult to cook as just a few seconds too long in the pan can take the texture from tender and succulent to something like wet-cardboard in a heart-beat. Ken’s managed it just right, however and the result was very toothsome. My only real complaint, other than the presentation, was that the mushrooms were not of the highest quality. They were a bit stringy and the flavor (admittedly subtle at the best of times) was hard to discern. I am thinking that lightly poaching the mushrooms first in a nice stock would improve the result. In any event, I will be playing around with this basic idea in a future post so stay tuned…
I had some Prosciutto leftover from making a Braciole and needed to use it up. I thought briefly about simply doing Shrimp wrapped with Prosciutto but we have had that many times and so I decided to go with the same ingredients but jazz things up a little with a new twist. The result I came up with is vaguely Asian and, while it is not based on any particular recipe, it does seem to have a bit of a Taiwanese flair to it… Continue reading “Prosciutto Rolls stuffed with Shrimp”
The other day while blog-surfing I came across a recipe for chicken breasts that were wrapped with bacon and grilled with Cajun seasoning. I’m afraid I forgot to bookmark the link, which is a shame as it was worth sharing, but it inspired me to try something with some Prosciutto I had leftover from some previous culinary experiments. I went more Italian than Cajun and I thought that the Prosciutto would give something of the flavor of bacon but be a little lighter and less cloyingly rich… Continue reading “Chicken with Prosciutto and Asiago”