A friend of mine has an Asian-inspired closed-door restaurant here in Punta. When I went there for the first time, I saw “spring rolls” on the menu and I ordered it, thinking I’d get the Chinese fried version. Instead, he brought pockets of raw vegetables. I tried them, skeptically, but I loved it! Very fresh and light!
To end our Summer Tertulias, I decided to make that recipe. It isn’t hard, but it takes a while to roll everything. It’s totally worth it, though, and they last a few days in the fridge – a healthy snack option. They are very versatile: you can fill them however you want. I made the vegan version, but you can add boiled shrimp, for example.
The rice paper used for these spring rolls can be found in health/Asian stores. Here in Uruguay, I found them on the gluten-free section of the supermarket (the celiac population here is surprisingly big: we had a gluten-free section before it was cool 😀 ).
The quantities listed here are simply a suggestion – adjust however you like!
1 packet of rice paper wraps
1 cucumber, julienned – I still haven’t mastered the cut, though…
1 carrot, julienned
1/3 green bell pepper, julienned
1/3 red bell pepper, julienned
1/3 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 packet of bean sprouts – alfalfa sprouts work nicely too, but I didn’t find them in the market! 😀
4 Tbsp soy sauce – traditionally, fish sauce is used, but then the recipe is no longer vegan. I tested both and they are equally good.
1 Tbsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 garlic cloves
1 cup of water
Start by prepping all the vegetables.
Then, set up your workstation: the veggies, the sprouts, the mint, the rice paper, a deep plate with water (to soften the rice paper), a clean dish towel, and a plate to place the finished rolls.
Place one wrap on the plate with water and let it sit for a minute. It will be quite soft! Carefully, remove the wrap from the plate and place it over your towel, trying to keep it from curling. The first few times it may be a little troublesome, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!
Place the filling on the center of the wrap, being careful not to overfill. Fold the bottom part of the wrap over the filling, fold both sides into the center, making an envelope, and fold the top part over, closing the roll. Repeat until you run out of wraps or filling! 😀
Mix the sauce ingredients and serve!
For the third recipe of the Summer Tertulias, I decided to make the first drink of the blog! 🙂 While researching “summer recipes” on Pinterest, I came across “agua fresca,” a very refreshing Mexican drink – the middle point between juice and flavored water 😀
Among the several options of agua fresca, I decided on this Epicurious version, which has an interesting detail: homemade mint syrup. I had never made syrup before, and was surprised at how easy it is! The coolest thing is that you can use the same syrup to make pineapple agua fresca!
For a big pitcher of agua fresca, you’ll need:
5 cups of watermelon, seeded – I used half a medium-sized watermelon and decided that was 5 cups 😀 For the pineapple version, I used roughly 2 cups of fresh pineapple, chopped.
1/4 cup of lemon juice
A LOT OF ICE (I used two trays)
For the mint syrup:
1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
In a small saucepan, place all the ingredients of the syrup and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and let it chill completely.
While the syrup cools down, remove the seeds of the watermelon and chop it. When I was done chopping, I remembered I had a pineapple that needed to be used as well. As I had doubled the syrup recipe, I decided to make pineapple agua fresca – the method was exactly the same, but I only used 2 cups of chopped pineapple.
Place the watermelon, the lemon juice, and the mint syrup in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the contents directly over the pitcher. Add two cups of water, mix well, and add plenty of ice. Serve ice cold!
Freezer: Place the agua fresca in a popsicle mold and freeze – it will be a hit! 🙂
For the second recipe of the Summer Tertúlias, I finally photographed one of my favorite recipes! This is a great thing to have on the fridge for a quick lunch – a simple salad or sandwich with a few slices of this salmon will get the job done. And what’s more, this recipe does not require a stove, which is ideal for the hot weather down here!
This must have been the first recipe I’ve watched from Chef John. Naturally, after testing it I became a fan! On Christmas, we served it with mini toasts and cream cheese, which I spiced with dill and pepper – it was a hit!
1 piece of salmon – mine was approximately 1 kg, but the size doesn’t really matter, as the brine is the same
For the brine:
2 1/2 cups cold water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup salt
Start by removing the skin – or be smart and buy your salmon without the skin. With patience (and a sharp knife), the skin will come off.
Slice the salmon as if for sashimi – that is, 0.5 cm thick, give or take. It’s no big deal if your slices are thicker – all you have to do is leave them a little longer in the brine!
For the brine itself, you’ll need a bit of arm strength and faith: stir all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until the liquid is once again clear. For the first two or three minutes of stirring, you’ll be thinking “this is never going to get clear,” but here’s where the faith (and arm strength) comes in: it WILL turn clear, just keep stirring! 🙂
Set up a little workstation on your counter: the sliced salmon, the brine bowl, a clean plate to place the salmon when it’s ready, a cooling rack, and your cell phone (or a kitchen timer, if you’re feeling fancy). If you don’t have a cooling rack, just place some paper towels on your counter to soak up the excess liquid.
Place a few pieces of salmon in the brine and set your timer for three minutes. Don’t overfill the bowl – a single layer will do. When your timer rings,
transfer the pieces to the cooling rack (or paper towel stack). Put a new batch of salmon in the brine and repeat the process.
As the salmon dries off a little, place the pieces on a place – they should be close together, but not stacked. Cover the plate tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours.
Serve with toast and cream cheese, or simply with some soy sauce!
January in the Southern Hemisphere is always the same deal: it’s too hot, “this year I’ll eat healthier, I swear,” “did I mention it’s hot in here?,” etc. So, nothing better than starting the year with Summer Tertulias – a series of light recipes that go hand in hand with the hot weather! 😀
Today’s recipe is a very very tasty LETTUCE-FREE salad (I don’t really care for lettuce). The coolest thing is that you only get the cutting boards and the plates dirty, no need for a salad bowl! Deb’s original recipe called for feta, but I’ve never found it here in Uruguay – I used hard ricotta and it worked great. You can also use goat cheese, it’s excellent!
For two people, you’ll need:
1/2 green bell pepper
1 cup of cherry/grape tomatoes
1/4 cup of black olives – you can skip it, if you want. I won’t understand it, but you can do it, it’s your salad after all!
1/2 medium-size red onion – mine was big, so I used 1/4.
Thick slices of feta, ricotta, goat cheese, or grilled tofu for a vegan version
juice of 1 lemon – I got carried away and used 2, but the original recipe calls for just one 😀
olive oil, salt, black pepper, oregano (fresh oregano would be the ideal thing here, but I only had dried leaves, so that’s what I used)
Assembling this salad is super easy.
If you think that raw onions are too strong, you can slice it thinly and let it soak in the lemon juice while you chop the rest of the ingredients. I love raw onions (mom will tell you all about how I used to steal raw onions from the fridge when I was five), so all I did was slice it thin! 😀
Cut the cucumber into medium-size bits, the bell pepper in small cubes, and the cherry tomatoes in half. I placed the ingredients on the plates as I chopped them, to spare one dish! #lazypeoplehack
Place the olives and the cheese slices on the salad, and dress it with the lemon juice (even if you’ve soaked your onions in it), olive oil, salt, pepper, and the oregano leaves.
Eat and feel virtuous that you are sticking to your new year’s resolution (for now…) 😀