when good foods go bad
Surely even the best chefs among us must make mistakes sometimes. Living with and learning from our mistakes is humbling, and it teaches us not to take ourselves too seriously. I’ve had many years of baking failures, and each time I’ve been able to learn something interesting about how certain flours work, or understand individual equipment, or learn about new ingredients, and so much more.
But sometimes the mistakes are bigger: a few weeks ago I had a large-scale cooking demonstration to prepare, and when the menu changed at the last minute I choose a Summer Roll recipe that I had not tested properly, and proceeded to make 80 rolls (with help!). Though I’ve made many summer rolls in the past, I didn’t learn until the last minute that these don’t keep overnight with sauce inside them. The result of this oversight was 80 melty and gross summer rolls on the morning of our cooking demonstration. I was horrified (and in tears!)- not only had this taken hours to prepare, it was WASTED money and vegetables, which always breaks my heart. AND it was my first cooking demonstration with my new business partner, and I felt like a miserable failure. Luckily, there were enough vegetables and rice papers to make only 20 more- and the awesome boyfriend to help me make the replacements at 7am. Because we had so few to share we had to slice in half and serve to our students. Overall the event went beautifully and reinforced some good cooking lessons of patience, practice, and calm in the face of adversity.
Here’s the recipe for Summer Rolls with Peanut Miso Sauce, but please note: make these just before serving!
Summer Rolls with Peanut Miso Sauce
½ cup peanut butter
⅓ cup fresh orange juice appetizer
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons miso
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 bunch asparagus
2-3 carrots, sliced into strips
2-3 cucumbers, sliced into strips
1 bunch green onions
1 cup chopped fresh herbs
20 leaves of lettuce, washed and dried
1 (12-ounce) package of rice paper wrappers (about 20 wraps)
- Prepare the Miso Peanut Sauce: Mix the peanut butter, orange juice, olive oil, miso, apple cider vinegar, and honey in a small bowl until totally smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
- Bring a large stockpot of salted water to boil. Add asparagus to hot water and let cook for just one minute. Remove carefully and let dry.
- Clear a large work area and set up bowls of asparagus, carrots, cucumbers, green onions and herbs. Fill a large bowl with very hot water.
- To prepare the rolls: dip each rice paper wrapper in the hot water until just flexible (do not oversoak). Place onto a clean work surface and add lettuce, a spear of asparagus, carrots, cucumber and herbs. Roll tightly and set aside. Continue with remaining rice paper wrappers.
- Cut rolls into halves and serve with Miso Peanut Sauce. For best flavor, serve immediately. Wrap any leftovers tightly in plastic wrap.
Yield: 20 rolls