Asparagus, Chard & Soba Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Gah, I always get stressed when more than a few days go by without posting – I don’t like to lose momentum. Not only is blogging a good exercise in self-discipline and all that, it’s my only real creative outlet right now, and I like to make it a priority.
I wish I had exciting stories about what I’ve been up to in the last ten days, but if I may be honest… I’ve just been so tired.
We recently got notice that we needed to leave our apartment because the owner wants to move in. It’s never fun to be uprooted, but we had an exceptionally hard time finding a new place to live. We looked at dozens of places, and nothing felt right – any unit that allowed dogs was either insanely expensive (even by Vancouver standards) or dark, small and in the middle of nowhere, usually with an abundance of stairs (strollers with babies in them are not stair-friendly).
It got to the point that we were packing to leave, and had nowhere to go…
Thankfully we found something last week, and I’m actually excited about our next chapter. But I’m tired. Mentally, from being unsettled over the housing situation, and physically, because my 11-month-old has been in a cold –> teething –> cold cycle for the past 6 weeks which means he thinks 1 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. are all excellent times for snuggles.
I just was about to apologize for complaining and make a joke about my first world problems… but truth is, things aren’t always easy, especially as a new mom, and yes, I’m abundantly grateful that my “problems” are minuscule by the world’s standards, but they’re still challenges and I don’t think we should always put on our “Facebook facade” of everything-is-easy-and-perfect-in-my-life because then, how can we possibly relate to and support one another? Amiright?
Well, that got heavier than I intended for a Summer Rolls post. Whoops.
Ok, SUMMER ROLLS. They’re one of my favourite foods. All the textures, all the flavours. The peanut sauce, oh lordy, the peanut sauce. If there were a food I could swim in, this would be it.
I did a healthy, springtime spin on the typical vietnamese summer roll with the addition of asparagus, swiss chard and soba noodles. So yummy!
It takes a fair bit of time to wrap up all the rolls, so my advice is to throw a little dinner party and put all the ingredients on the table, asking guests to roll their own. Or even just with your own family – like taco night! It’s more fun, and you get to linger longer over the meal.
Rice paper wrappers might seem finicky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it after a couple. If you’re struggling with stickiness or tearing, just wet your fingers to keep the wrappers pliable and fight the urge to overstuff them.
You will likely have leftover peanut sauce – it is DELICIOUS on grilled lime-marinated chicken skewers, in a pita with shredded carrots, cucumber, sprouts, etc., tossed with cold noodles for a salad… possibilities are endless.
For Summer Rolls:
- 12 asparagus stalks, tough ends trimmed
- 6 large chard leaves, stems removed and roughly torn
- 36 medium peeled, deveined shrimp, tails removed
- 6 oz soba noodles
- 12 small rice paper wrappers
- 1/4 cup packed mint leaves
For Peanut Sauce:
- ½ cup peanut butter
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1 ½ tbsp sambal olek (asian chili paste) or red chili flakes
- Hot water as needed to thin
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water.
Drop asparagus into the boiling water and cook 3 minutes, or until bright green and crisp-tender; using tongs, transfer to ice bath. Add chard to pot and cook 1 minute, transfer to ice bath with asparagus. Add shrimp to pot and cook until pink, about 2 minutes; using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice bath. Finally, add soba noodles to boiling water and cook 6 minutes, or until tender; transfer to a colander and run cold water over until clear. Allow to drain fully.
Remove all ingredients from the ice bath and set up a rolling station on your counter by spreading out a clean, dampened tea towel. Fill a baking dish 2″ deep with hot tap water.
Working with one at a time, place a rice paper in the hot water until soft, about 1 minute. Transfer to your damp towel and arrange one stalk of asparagus, some chard, 3 shrimp, a small handful of noodles (about 2 tbsp) and a couple of mint leaves inside. Roll it up, tucking in the sides as best you can. Proceed the same way with remaining wrappers.
For Peanut Sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a large glass measuring cup and microwave for 1-2 minutes until you are able to whisk it. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time to thin to desired consistency. Serve warm or room temperature. Keeps 1 week in the fridge; rewarm and thin with more hot water as needed.