I recently went to a show at the famed Hollywood Bowl, and to pay back my friends for awesome tickets, I made and brought us all dinner. That’s one great thing about the Bowl—you can BYO food (and, for most shows, wine or beer). The challenge is bringing dishes that aren’t too hard to eat (i.e. won’t dribble all down your shirt while you dance in your seat) and don’t need to be super hot or super cold. Especially when you’re coming form work (like me).
This go around I made summer rolls along with a cold noodle dish with pulled chicken. Instead of shrimp I used marinated tofu for the rolls, along with lots of fresh veggies and herbs. I prepped all of the ingredients that morning, including washing and chopping veggies, making the dipping sauce, and cooking the tofu. I packed everything up but didn’t hydrate the rice paper and wrap up my rolls yet. If you let them sit for too long they start to dry out and get extra gummy. So after work, before heading to the Bowl, I pulled everything out and rolled up my rolls one by one. I covered them tightly with plastic wrap and they were ready to go for easy snacking at the show.
Tofu Summer Rolls
sauce inspired by Chowhound
1 teaspoon sesame oil
about 8 ounces firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2″ matchsticks*
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 dash sugar
1 medium carrot, julienned
1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 small cucumber, cut into 1/4″ matchsticks*
2 scallions, julienned
8 small leaves of butter, curly, green, or red lettuce
8 small sprigs fresh cilantro
16 fresh mint leaves
8 round rice paper wrappers
1/4 cup creamy, salted natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoons chili-garlic paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small finely grated garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon lime juice
Note: all matchstick ingredients should be 2-3″ long.
1. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a medium-sized skillet. Add the tofu and toss, cooking until lightly browned on most sides. Meanwhile, combine the soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar in a container. Remove the tofu to the container and toss well. Let sit.
2. Toss the carrots with the rice wine vinegar and let sit.
3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until combined. Taste for seasoning.
4. When within 2 hours of serving time, assemble the rolls. Lay a damp towel down on the counter. Dip one rice paper in water for about 5 seconds until pliable but not mushy. Lay flat on the towel.
5. Working quickly, drain a few sticks of tofu and add to the middle of the paper. Top with 2-3 matchsticks of drained cucumber and some drained carrot. Wrap two pieces of scallion, 2 mint leaves, and a sprig of cilantro up in the lettuce and add on top.
6. Use one hand to secure the filling while using the other to roll up one end half way. Fold on the two sides and roll the rest of the way to form a roll. Be sure to keep the filling tight so that the roll doesn’t fall apart when you bite in. Cut in half if desired.
7. Store covered tightly with plastic wrap for up to 2 hours. The sauce can be made a day ahead of time.