Japanese Garlic Noodles


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Here in East Nashville we have an amazing new restaurant called Two Ten Jack. It’s a Japanese-inspired izakaya…  which is a neighborhood pub usually featuring an array of ramen dishes. The first time I went I ordered the garlic noodles (I mean, why wouldn’t I?) and proceeded to fall deeply in love. I think I even had dreams about them. Then they did the horror of all horrors – THEY TOOK THEM OFF THE MENU!! I don’t even want to know why. There is no justifiable reason.

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Vegetarian Spring Rolls w/Peanut Sauce


Once again I am trying to duplicate something from my favorite Thai restaurant, Thai Phooket. But I love Spring Rolls, especially because they’re fresh and healthy and dipped in a sauce made from peanut butter and Asian spices! Um hello… speaking my language here.

I stumbled across the rice paper wrappers at Nashville’s downtown International Market. So I thought I’d give it a shot. After some online research (Have you checked out TasteSpotting?) I set out to wrap some veggie Spring Rolls.

Let me emphasize here how important it is to establish your mise en place. This process goes quickly once you start rolling the rice paper… so, as always, I suggest reading through the entire recipe before beginning. Once all your veggies and herbs are chopped and ready, make your peanut sauce… since spring rolls are best eaten immediately after being assembled. And you don’t want them sitting around getting soggy while making your sauce.

Ingredients

Carrots
Yellow bell peppers
Green onions
Cilantro leaves
Avocado strips
Bean sprouts
Cucumber
Avocado
(all veg sliced julienne in the slimmest cut you can manage. Quantities vary based on how thick you want your rolls to be. I suggest 1.5-2″ around.)
Rice paper wrappers
Fresh basil, mint and cilantro leaves – chiffonade cut

Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbs. rice vinegar
1/2 c. Tamari soy sauce
1-2 tbs. Siracha chili sauce (really however much or little you want)
1/2 c. peanut butter
juice of one lime
2 tbs. sesame oil

Preparation
Julienne all of your veggies in long 2-3″ strips
Roll herb leaves together and slice into a chiffonade and set aside.
Get a fry pan or deep plate that’s at least 12″ across. Fill with warm (not hot) water. You will use this to soak your rice paper wrappers.


Ready to Cook (or rather, assemble)?

For the Peanut Sauce:
Put all sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. It should be creamy but not too runny. Be sure to taste and adjust accordingly. I like it spicier, you may like it more nutty.
For Spring Rolls:
Soak your rice paper sheets in the pan of warm water for roughly 15 seconds.
Begin layering your veggies and sprinkling the chiffonade of herbs across the veg. Once all your ingredients are stacked lengthwise, fold “burrito style” – i.e., Fold in the top and bottom of the roll, and then fold over one side, and roll tightly towards the other. The wrapper will stick to itself well and hold everything together. If your wrapper is drying and does not seem  to seal tightly, dip your finger in water and paint over all the seams.  Place seam-side down on plate. You can serve these whole (below) or cut in two (above)… which ever you prefer.

The Perfect Bite
Just drizzle a little peanut sauce into the roll and enjoy! TIP: if you spoon the sauce onto the cut roll verses dipping straight into the sauce, your roll will stay together better.

The Perfect Pairing
Yalumba makes an amazing little viognier… which is a white varietal that is similar to chardonnay, but not nearly as oak-y.  Richer in musk and spice it’s a perfect balance for the crisp fresh vegetables in the spring rolls and is smooth enough to ease the heat of the peanut sauce.

The Perfect Health
These little beauties are so healthy! Not only are they packed with nutrients from the vegetables and herbs, but they’re a mere 63 calories per roll (95 calories if you add shrimp). Of course there’s 50 calories per tablespoon of peanut sauce… but it’s so rich it only takes a little. So enjoy!

The Unagi Burger


This Japanese version of the burger is probably one of my favorites. It’s light and refreshing. You almost forget you’re eating a burger! Biting into a combination of fresh ginger, crisp cucumber and crunchy broccoli sprouts brings you a burst of surprising sweet and tangy goodness.

Ingredients
(makes 4 burgers)
2lbs ground sirloin beef (grass fed)
1/2 cup panko
1 egg
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup fresh ginger
1/2 cup green onions sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp of sesame oil
3/4 cup broccoli sprouts
*8 pcs of shaved cucumber ribbons (2 per burger)
4 whole wheat baker’s rollWasabi Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons wasabi paste

Preparation
Mix first 7 ingredients together thoroughly… then add salt & pepper. Form patties and pat together well. Because of the volume of ingredients in these burgers… they will fall apart easily on the grill.

*If you don’t have a mandolin slicer, use your regular vegetable peeler and slice the cucumber lengthwise. Don’t peel the cucumber first, you want the dark green edges still on the strip. See here for more details.

Wasabi Dressing
Mix all ingredients well. Taste it and add a little more wasabi paste if you like it really spicy. This can be made ahead of time and last in the refrigerator for a week or more. I always make extra because it makes a great dip.

Ready To Cook?
When ready to grill burgers, test one of the patties to see if it is holding up on the grill and not falling apart. These are delicate burgers to cook. Be sure to coat grill with non-stick spray. If it’s falling apart too much, try browning it in a skillet first so the outside is a little done. B careful not to brown it too much or it’ll dry out on the grill.

Brush sesame oil on the inside of the split baker’s roll and toast on the upper or outer edges of grill. When rolls are lightly toasted, spread wasabi sauce on top bun and add broccoli sprouts. Place meat on bottom bun and 2 cucumber ribbons on top of meat. Carefully fold together and you have The Unagi Burger!

The Perfect Bite
I think the perfect bite here… is the first bite. When all those fresh ingredients explode in your mouth for the first time. But it’s a burger… every bite will be perfect.

The Perfect Pairing
As a side dish… opt for a bowl of edamame instead of fries or chips. And if you haven’t tried sake before… now might be a good time to try it. Gekkeikan Sake can be served chilled or warm. Serve in small demitasse cups if you don’t have sake cups on hand.

The Perfect Health
Modern scientific research has revealed that ginger possesses numerous therapeutic properties including antioxidant effects, an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, and direct anti-inflammatory effects. Read more here.
The Unagi Burger on FoodistaThe Unagi Burger