Thinking outside of the box is something I seem to do pretty well in my everyday life and now it seems to be trickling over into my kitchen.
I have made the traditional spring rolls with shrimp and have found that my family is not a fan of the shrimp but they love the concept of using the round rice disk as a way of holding delicious veggies.
Recently I found some beef that had been cut into thin wide strips at Whole Foods. I figured this could be used for any number of dishes so I included it in my shopping cart. I will often buy unique things in the store without having any idea of what dish I may include it in.
The next day I noticed I had a few vegetables that needed to be used up that day. This idea came to my mind. A steak spring roll. Would it taste okay? Sure, steak is kind of like bacon in our family, added to most things, it will taste fantastic.
Reaching for a baggie, I started adding a bit of this and a little of that to season and marinate the beef. I had a feeling this would be amazing and so I wrote everything down as I went. I don't always do this when I first try a recipe because it usually requires some tweaking over the next few months.
When you use certain ingredients a lot you learn their qualities and attributes to a recipe and when marrying the ingredients together you are able to create an explosion of flavor. This happened.
I wanted the meat to be somewhat strong in flavor, I was okay if it tasted a bit saltier than normal. With the pairing of the fresh veggies and rice wrapper, this combination would allow the meat to shine in every bite.
Rye, my oldest daughter, is usually my taste tester when she is not in college and I knew this was a hit for the mere fact that she was pacing the halls back and forth from her room to the stove, asking me on more than one occasion, "are they done yet?" and telling me, "that smells so good".
The longest part of this dish? Julienne vegetables. I love the look and I wanted those thin matchstick pieces to shine in the pictures of the spring roll. My hand and mind needed to work together to create these narrow sticks of beauty.
As I started to line up the veggies next to each and could see the rainbow of flavor that would be featured in each spring roll, I was motivated to continue on to the next ingredient. I do have a OXO mandolin that has a julienne blade but I wanted the challenge of doing it by hand.
I love my kitchen gadgets that help me to save time but on this day I wanted the experience of doing this simple, yet taxing task, the old fashion way…me and steel.
Working with the rice wrappers is a new experience for some. You have this hard disk and you are expected to create a spring roll of deliciousness how? LOL
I have given you step by step instructions below to help you work with and use this ingredient.
I love these steak spring rolls and cannot wait to make them again for myself, my family or friends.
Recipe: Steak Spring Rolls with a Red Wine Reduction
makes 8, 16 halves
6 slices of thin strips of beef, cut 1/4 in thick
1/4 teaspoon of onion powder
2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worceshershire Sauce
dash of pepper
oil, for searing meat
3/4 cup of red wine
salt to taste
toasted sesame seeds
assortment of veggies for filling: cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, onion, bell pepper, etc…
8 rice spring roll wrapper disc
Marinate meat in a baggie along with onion powder, soy sauce, worceshershire sauce and pepper for one hour.
In a large skillet, heat oil and add meat. Dispose of left over marinade.
Cook meat for about 2 minutes on each side. The thin strips will cook quickly and you don't need them well done and chewy. Sprinkle each side with toasted sesame seeds.
The meat marinade and juices, when combined with the oil in the pan, will create a small amount of liquid. Remove your meat to a plate. Set the pan aside with the juice for creating the sauce later. Any juice that is left on the plate from the meat sitting should be added to the pan too.
After the meat has cooled a bit, cut each piece into thin strips to match those of the veggies. Try to cut across the grain so the meat will be easier to bite into.
Prepare you veggies. To help stack the veggies and meat, they will work better if everything is cut into thin strips. The lettuce can be shredded.
The picture below will show you what a single rice disk will look like. They are sold in packages at most grocery stores in the Asian sections.
I use a shallow pie dish filled half way with warm water to soften my rice disk in. This process is quick. You will place the disk in the warm water and wait about 30 seconds. The disk will slowly go from hard to super soft in about 3 minutes.
Remove the disk to your work surface and start stacking your veggies and meat.
Try to work quickly. Take the left side and the right side and fold into the middle. Starting at the bottom, flip that over the filling, tighten a bit to secure all of the ingredients and proceed to roll into a spring roll form.
Your spring roll is complete. I lay my rolls on a plate in a single roll. The skin of the roll becomes tacky to the touch and if you lay them on top of each other they could tear apart.
Serving the spring rolls is easy. I have an assortment of dipping sauces available and cut them in half.
Recipe: Red Wine Reduction
Drippings from pan and plate (around 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup of red wine
Heat pan and let the juices and wine simmer (gently rolling) until it reduces to 1/3 of a cup. Stir occasionally. Taste the reduction to see if salt is needed. The time for this step will depend on how thick you want the sauce. It took me about 10 minutes.