I like to keep things simple. But it’s not easy in a world that wants to complicate life with more. Going out for ice cream can be a nightmare – choosing between Haagen Dazs and Baskin Robbins; maybe consider frozen yoghurt, sorbet or gelato as well. Next step, flavours – fruity, cheesecakey, with chocolate chips, swirly…nuts? Do I want it in a cup (regular or large), normal or waffle cone? Moving on to toppings – syrups or sprinkles…it’s endless.
So, at the beginning of the new year, when my mind is abuzz with unrealistic plans of de-cluttering, detoxing, setting goals and simplifying life, I also want to eat light, no-fuss, back-to-basics food. I guess you know by now that I avoid cooking dishes that are overly elaborate, and involve more than two cooking processes. I tend to lose my appetite at the thought of transforming perfectly beautiful, fresh ingredients into dishes where they’re unrecognisable.
For me, less is always more. And in the spirit of simplicity I made these delicious Vietnamese rice paper rolls with raw ingredients…didn’t go anywhere near the stove, I promise. Also instead of filling my rolls with the standard cucumber and carrots, I chose button mushrooms…yes you got that right, raw mushrooms lightly cured with beef carpaccio. You could easily use steamed chicken, salami, prociutto or any cured or smoked meat, fish or even silken tofu. The mushrooms are luscious, juicy chunks of velvet in this avatar; the meat is butter-soft and intense with flavour and the crunch is provided by fresh mix of watercress, rocket and baby spinach (I even added nasturtium leaves growing in abundance in my garden)….perfect. This is clean, relaxed food – no stress making it, even less work eating and the best part is that after, you’re light and nimble on your toes. Try it.
Mushroom and Beef Vietnamese Rolls
- 18 sheets of Vietnamese rice paper rolls
- 200 g fresh button mushrooms sliced
- 100 g good quality fresh or cured beef carpaccio(paper thin slices of beef) shredded
- 100 g mixed salad greens
- 2 tbsps fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsps rice wine vinegar
- Combine mushrooms and beef with fish sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil in a bowl and mix with a light hand. Rest for 10 mins.
- Wet a kitchen towel and spread on the counter (keep sprinkling water on the towel as needed), and place a rice paper roll on it gently pressing for a few seconds to soften it. Gently lift the roll, place on a chopping board and spoon a little mushroom filling topped with a few of the greens an inch above the edge, fold in both the left and right sides and the bottom, then roll to resemble a spring roll (see pictures). Keep the rolls covered to prevent them from drying out as you make the rest of the rolls.