Spring Rolls with Skirt Steak

I’m on a roll with foods you can roll. Also about foods that, if you’re going to make the effort to go to a specialty market for ingredients such as lemongrass, Thai basil, or rice paper, make use of these ingredients if you can’t stick them in the freezer or pantry.

All that tofu from the lettuce wraps made me hungry for red meat. So after trimming the fat off a 1 1/2 pound skirt steak, marinate it in a mixture of 1/2 cup of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of vinegar, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and some cracked black pepper for 8 hours.

Meanwhile, prep the rest of the ingredients: half a bag of rice noodles (enough to equal 4-6 ounces), 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into long, thin slices, 1 big handful of cilantro, ends trimmed, Thai basil that’s lasted us through two other meals in the last seven days, and 1 diced tomato and 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion steeped in 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar for about 30 minutes. If you get done early, you can put everything you’ve prepped in the refrigerator and forget about it until dinnertime.

Grill the meat for about 3-5 minutes per side, then cover in foil. Slice.

Set up an assembly line with all the ingredients.

Pour hot water into a large bowl and run a piece of rice paper through it in a circular motion. Pile the noodles, vegetables, meat, and garnishes in one corner, pull in the sides, and roll.

This is Lupe’s roll: cucumber, rice noodles, and a little meat on rice paper.

This is Rue’s roll: rice noodles on rice paper. After two of these, she just wants rice paper. I can’t get angry at her because that’s what I used to ask for as a kid. Don’t underestimate the palette-pleasing power of a piece of wet rice paper. Do feel free to underestimate its nutritional power.

This is mine: cucumber, rice noodles, rare meat, cilantro, Thai basil, and quick-pickled tomatoes. I honestly can’t tell you if there’s a proper order for layering ingredients on the rice paper. It all tastes the same going in. You can change up the order with each roll and see if you taste a difference. Might need to try lots of them.

Spring Rolls with Grilled Skirt Steak

serves 4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound skirt steak, fat trimmed (I like to slice it into two smaller pieces to make it easier to work with)

1/2 cup of soy sauce

3 tablespoons of vinegar

3 tablespoons of sugar

1 tablespoon of minced ginger

2 cloves of minced garlic

cracked black pepper to taste

half a bag of rice noodles

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into long, thin slices

1 big handful of cilantro, ends trimmed

Thai basil

1 diced tomato

1/4 cup thinly sliced onion

1 tablespoon of vinegar

1/2 tablespoon of sugar

Directions:

1. Marinate the skirt steak in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, minced ginger, minced garlic and black pepper in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, turning at least once.

2. Prepare the rice noodles according to package directions and refrigerate if necessary.

3. Prepare the cucumber, cilantro, and Thai basil. Refrigerate if necessary.

4. Mix 1/2 tablespoon of sugar in 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add the diced tomato and sliced onion and marinate at least 30 minutes. Refrigerate if necessary.

5. Grill the meat for about 3-5 minutes per side, then cover in foil. Slice.

6. Set out all ingredients. Once the rice paper is wet, you need to work quickly.

7. Pour hot (not boiling) water into a large bowl and run a piece of rice paper through it in a circular motion. Add noodles, vegetables, meat, and garnishes in one corner, pull in the sides, and roll. Serve with nuoc mam (optional but highly recommended).

Nuoc Mam

Ingredients:

A little goes a long way; I usually combine 1/4 cup of the fish sauce, vinegar, and sugar with 1/2 cup of the water, and it makes plenty for a large family dinner or to save. This will keep in the refrigerator for a very long time.

1 part fish sauce

1 part vinegar

1 part sugar

2 parts water

chili paste to taste

Directions:

1. Combine the fish sauce, vinegar, and water in a large bowl.

2. Add the sugar. Stir until dissolved. Test and adjust flavors if needed.

3. Add chili paste to taste.

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