Vietnamese Spring Rolls – tofu, basil, garlic soy dip

by on July 23, 2008

vietnamese-springrolls-vegetarian-tofu

It’s time to finally finish our Spring cleaning, even if we’re a few months behind. Spring cleaning our pantry, fridge, freezer and emergency earthquake stash in Summer is called procrastination. But it’s never too late, we suppose, to finish what we started in April. So it’s been really gratifying and good for out pocket books (less grocery shopping runs) to use up what has be hiding and forgotten about behind our cabinets and refridgerator shelves. Before every meal, we’ve been trying to use up all our excess ingredients and left overs before we hastily run to the market. It’s always so much fun to head out to the farmers market once or even twice a weeks to find out what’s fresh from the farms, but after reading an informative article about food waste in the New York Times and Johnathan Bloom on, wastedfood.com, it’s time to make some serious changes.

Crispy, curry crusted tofu. How can you not love tofu?

vietnamese-springrolls-vegetarian-tofu

Both the NY Times article and Jonathan’s blog remind us of just how much food is wasted in America. Without being political, we ask that you visit these sites because it’s always empowering to be informed. Their insight helps raise awareness to our shameful food habits, but do offer helpful resources to how we can all start becoming more responsible and green. Here we are, trying our best to not contribute to those staggering statistics and become better consumers. With our garden veggies, lots of extra left overs food stashed away, we’re eating up what we have till it’s all finished and the pantry is empty of excess. To be honest, we’ve often been guilty of wasted food, sometimes buying and cooking more than we can eat. But we’ve been well aware of these occasions and that’s why we’ve experimenting with dishes using leftovers more often.

plenty of garden thai basil for the rolls

vietnamese-springrolls-vegetarian-tofu

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you’ll know that these fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls pop up at every one of our parties and our daily meals. Tonight’s meal of fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls are not only a ritual in our household, but the perfect way to use up left overs. Here’s the inventory of some leftovers we were able to gather from the kitchen:

  • Exactly 2.5 pieces of firm tofu left over from Saturdays dinner. It’s surprising that the tofu was still edible!
  • About 1/2 cucumber from….who knows were!
  • Two types of lettuce from Friday’s bun rieu noodle soup ( that Mom made)
  • Opened package of rice paper wrappers that desperately needed to be eaten before they crumble with age
  • Garden full of Thai basil.

vietnamese-springrolls-vegetarian-tofu

Voila! A Vietnamese Spring Roll dinner was served with in 30 minutes. Everything was already in the fridge from a previous meal or already growing in the garden and we didn’t have to make a grocery run! We decided to quickly baste the tofu in a curry inspired marinade. This was something a little different than what we normally marinade with tofu and it was so delicious! Even delicious enough to get many of you tofu haters to cross to the Joy of Soy side! Yes, the tofu was awesome and it was lightly fried on the outside to a crisp texture and sliced thin for the rolls. Our garden basil was going crazy too to we plucked a couple of sprigs of Thai Basil and added them to the rolls along with mom’s left over lettuce and refreshing cucumbers for crunch. If you’re calorie counting, this is the perfect dish. All the ingredients are low in calories and literally, almost fat free. The only fattening indulgence in the Vietnamese Spring Rolls is the wee, itty, bitty amount of oil needed to crisp up the tofu. There you have it, a dish made from left overs that is healthy, fresh and delicious. The simple garlic/soy dip is an every day dip for us too and it’s just mild enough to not overpower the curry flavored tofu and the freshness of the basil. Vietnamese Spring Rolls are the perfect vegetarian meal!

springrolling 101

vietnamese-springrolls-vegetarian-tofu

The timing could not be more perfect because we are submitting these Curry Tofu and Basil Springrolls dish to Rebecca’s and Valerie’s new event. Rebecca and Valeria are from FoodiewithFamily.com, who also happen to be a step daughter/step mother foodie team. Valerie is passionate about food and her inspirations are from her mother, grandmother and Julia Child. All three of her hero’s are excellent role models! Rebecca is a busy mom with five boys, all under the age of 10! Yes, lets repeat, 5 boys all under 10 years old!! This super busy lady, food writer and mom still manages to find the time to create an event along with Valerie called, Second Tuesdays Deja Food, where we are encouraged to cook with our leftovers, minimize waste and save money ! What a brilliant idea, because everyone has left overs and it’s the perfect time to share with everyone all your creative dishes using all your “previous meals”. There’s no waste! So if you get the chance, submit one of your leftover dishes over to Rebecca and Valerie. The best part of the event is that there is a prize (a jar of her homemade canned goodies!), for the best submission. Also, check out the cutest ever badge! It’s gotta be one of the most adorable food blog event badges out there. Anyone disagree? ;

vietnamese-springrolls-vegetarian-tofu

More appetizers that you might enjoy

Curry Tofu and Basil springroll Recipe

Yield: Serves 2-4

Total Time: 1 hour 30 Minutes

Ingredients:

Ingredients for Springrolls:

  • 1 pkg of firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 table spoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • lettuce
  • fresh thai basil
  • cucumbers
  • rice paper

Garlic Soy Dip Ingredients

  • 1-2 crushed garlic cloves (or finely minced), but crushed garlic really brings out the flavor.
  • 1 crushed thai chili
  • 1/2 squeezed lime (or about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons water

Directions:

Directions for Springrolls:

  1. Drain Tofu and blot dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Slice into about 1/4 ” pieces.
  2. Wash basil, lettuce and cucumbers. Slice cucumbers into matchstick sizes.
  3. In large plastic freezer bag, combine crushed/minced garlic, vegetable oil, curry powder, cumin & soy sauce, salt, pepper and sesame oil. Mix the marinade well, then add slices of tofu in bag. Lay tofu slices in gently on top of each other so that they don’t break. Make sure all marinate coats each slice of tofu.
  4. Let marinade for at least 1 hour or until all tofu slices soak up the marinade.
  5. Heat up frying pan. Do not add oil to the pan because the tofu is well oiled. Fry slices of tofu until both sides are golden brown with a nice firm crust.
  6. Allow tofu to cool, then slice into 1/4 ” strips.
  7. In large bowl, fill with warm water. Quickly dip each rice paper in warm water for about 2-3 seconds.
  8. Place wet rice paper on work station and follow rolling instructions here, atSpringrolling 101. Make sure rice paper is completely hydrated and softened before rolling.

Garlic Soy Dip Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients together well, making sure sugar dissoloves. Add slices of chili on top for garnish and extra spice joy!
  2. Serve with springrolls.
Recipe Source: WhiteOnRiceCouple.com.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kitt July 23, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Ooh, I would love to have some of those right now. Especially after I just finished doing an ice-cream taste test (homemade goat’s milk vs. Haagen-Dazs).

I’ve been doing “Don’t waste the milk! Don’t toss that whey!” experiments all week, so the admonishment against waste is well-received here!

I’ll post the ice cream results tomorrow, after I can get some daylight pics.

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2 Rita July 24, 2008 at 12:26 am

waw! talk about summer fresh! i want a garden full of herbs! pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

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3 Manggy July 24, 2008 at 2:14 am

Whoa curry tofu! I am there! :) I just read that tofu even in moderation causes a decrease in sperm count. Yikes! Thank goodness I have a lot to spare. (Er…) It would be plenty worth it for such a delicious-looking dish.
I’m not too good with the cleaning– I have some ground chicken patties that are about 9 months old still in my freezer. Somehow I can’t bring myself to throw them away! Should I just cook them somehow?

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4 canarygirl July 24, 2008 at 3:20 am

OH my GAWD. I could seriously cry I want one of these so badly. I think I have everything except thai basil, too…regular would work, too. Inspiring post, too…the amount of food and resources we waste is staggering. We really should be more mindful.

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5 Meena July 24, 2008 at 5:00 am

Oh I love these summer rolls! It’s just perfect for an impromptu get-together with close friends, out on the patio with loads of wine. A wonderfuly written post!

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6 Rebecca (Foodie With Family) July 24, 2008 at 5:29 am

Thank you for your submission to Second Tuesdays. Those springrolls are gorgeous! I want leftovers at your house. I don’t make enough tofu around here (even though there are 6 people who might disagree with me…) It’s mostly relegated to the realm of smoothies. I’ll have to try this out.

I agree completely about the volumes of food wasted. If you want a shock sometime, keep an eye on the plates full of waste at a buffet-type restaurant. I had to stop going to them because I couldn’t stand to see all the food that was thrown out by people who piled plates high with things they hadn’t tasted and then threw it away when they realized they didn’t like it.

…Aaaaaand my basil has completely failed to grow. Why? Er, I forgot to plant it. Now I’m dependent on the kindness of my gardener sister and friends to supply basil for my table and freezer. *cry* Ah well. Maybe when I grow up I’ll remember to do all the things I ought to do.

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7 sharon July 24, 2008 at 7:48 am

This combination sound delightful. I’ve been trying to be inventive with re-purposing leftovers, and I’ve never thought of using leftover noodles for springrolls. Y’all are so creative! :)

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8 noobcook July 24, 2008 at 7:56 am

The basil flowers are beautiful, as are your spring rolls :)~

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9 matt wright July 24, 2008 at 10:13 am

Great post! I wish my spring rolls turned out like yours. I completely agree with you about the food wastage – it is terrible. Especially when I visit peoples houses for dinner, and just see how much food goes straight into the trash can.

Sure, I am guilty of not using everything too.. I buy for a week (week’s menu gets planned out on Friday evenings..), and if something comes up mid week unexpected, there might be a few veggies that are looking rather shifty come the end of the week. I have however found a great way to use them….

We bought a juicer. I wasn’t sure at first.. juicing vegetables? I do hug the odd tree, but certainly not a forest, this didn’t seem like me.. Now, I have to say I am addicted. Our waste has gone right down, and we get a bunch of health benfits from veggies that wouldn’t have been great to cook. Just don’t add beets to a juice. It is nasty. Tastes like you are eating soil. It is also amazing how good juiced kale is when you also juice an apple to go into it :D

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10 didally July 24, 2008 at 10:17 am

Curry crusted tofu looks really delicious. I like anything curry.

Very lovely basil plant. I’m embarassed to say that mine basil plant died under my care.

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11 Psychgrad July 24, 2008 at 12:10 pm

Thanks for the links. Wasting food is always a concern of mine. I always feel a sense of loss when what was perfectly good food goes into the garbage. I agree with Rebecca – I always feel sick at buffets (or receptions) when I see the food waste. I’m not sure if it’s commonplace in my city, but more and more I’m feeling like freeganism is the way to go.

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12 grace July 24, 2008 at 12:28 pm

my farm-raised, animal-killing, super-macho brothers, cousins, and uncles sneer at anything tofu-related, but i like it. to be nice, i try not to eat it in their presence. if only they would return the favor and save their gory hunting stories for a time when i’m out of the room… :)

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13 MPG July 24, 2008 at 4:28 pm

I am coming over…will you make them again :) I really want to learn to make these!! Hate to see the wastage…it is really sad. It breaks my heart if a vegetable goes bad and I end up throwing it. So, we try to buy as much as we will eat that week. Like right now I have one bulb of fennel and I am trying to use every part of it in different ways :) People also store a lot of leftovers in this country, something that really struck me when I moved from India. In India, you only cook as much you would eat today. If there is leftover, you try to feed someone hungry right away, so noting is wasted. It also means you eat fresh! I’ll be reading Jonathan’s blog next.

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14 Cynthia July 24, 2008 at 8:38 pm

I love fresh spring rolls, they are always so delicious and filling.

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15 anya July 24, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Your post made me realize how enviromentally-unfriendly in terms of wasting food (leftovers) I am. I am headed to the articles you mentioned right at this very moment!

OMG, your garden full of fresh thai basil makes me green…with jealousy. :) Ever so slightly. :)

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16 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) July 25, 2008 at 4:28 am

Great way to use up leftovers and things from your pantry (you know I am such a fan of a well-stocked pantry!). I have lots of Thai basil in my garden, too, and I love mixing it in spring rolls with some fresh mint. The hardest thing about spring rolls is the method — once you know that, you can roll up anything and in minutes you will have an elegant and light dinner.

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17 cookinpanda July 25, 2008 at 10:25 am

Using up leftovers is critical. Reading all of the wasted food articles and sites is simply appalling. It’s so easy to let food go to waste– you really do have to be vigilant about it. Anyway, this recipe looks fantastic. I like the golden crust of the tofu.

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18 Rebecca July 25, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Great information! Such an important issue to think about–thanks for the links! And this recipe sounds great–sometimes I make spring rolls, but haven’t tried tofu in them–now I will!

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19 shayne July 25, 2008 at 1:34 pm

about a year about I started using up every little nibble often turning to stir fry or soup. I even save my ends and peices from carrots and onions and other veggies in the freezer and make stock out of it. just the other night I used up a bout 2 oz of pork, left over rice and a few peices of veggies (carrot, half a zucchini, last 2 green onions , 2 mushrooms and half a pepper, all left overs from the week) in a fried rice dish with some thai sweet chilli sauce. It was quite good and the kids even ate it. that is just one example and anything I can’t use (mango pits) goes into the compost.

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20 Nate July 25, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Hey, what about the mint?

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21 Cakelaw July 26, 2008 at 2:40 am

Delicious – curry crusted tofu is now on my “must try” list, and the spring rolls look wonderful and healthy.

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22 arundati July 26, 2008 at 5:35 am

they look fabulous….

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23 Simply...Gluten-free July 26, 2008 at 6:27 am

Hi guys. This post is very timely for me as I am about to make some spring rolls myself. Question – when I was at your house I thought we folded the round rice paper wrappers in half before stuffing and rolling – is this correct? I need a quick refresher course.

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24 Jescel July 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

what a beautiful springroll… very good for summer, indeed. I think springrolls are a staple in every Asian parties.. :oD

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25 Bren@Flanboyant Eats July 27, 2008 at 3:38 pm

i haven’t eaten today and so this pic makes me that much hungrier. how i wish i could grow my own garden.
you guys always make me smile.

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26 Dani July 27, 2008 at 5:49 pm

You know, I think I could feed these to my diabetic Dad if I used birch sugar and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce (low salt diet, too) in the recipes. You think? Parties are a real drag for him, because he can’t snack along with the rest of us, poor guy. And he does love to eat! Nice to see your Twitters while you were vacationing!

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27 Christie @ fig&cherry July 27, 2008 at 7:53 pm

The basil in your herb garden looks gorgeous! Not a brown leaf in site ;)
These rolls look so good it’s ridiculous!

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28 Annemarie July 29, 2008 at 10:11 am

Ooh, tofu! Who DOESN’T love that stuff!?

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29 Hélène August 1, 2008 at 9:29 am

I would love to try these. That would be a first for me. Looks so good.

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30 kate August 3, 2008 at 5:19 am

its 2 hrs frm lunch time, i have the rice paper sheets, i have the tofu, and thanks to you now i have the perfect thing to serve. I’m so glad i dropped by here today :)
Thanks … !!!

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31 Carissa December 3, 2008 at 8:05 pm

I just made these for supper and I was a bit disappointed with the recipe. Two teaspoons of salt seems like way too much for the marinade. Next time I make them, I won’t use any salt at all–the soy sauce is plenty salty already.

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32 Carl Beukes October 10, 2009 at 12:20 am

Hi-
Recipe looks great.
One problem on the website: link to springrolling 101 takes you to a blank page.

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33 White on Rice Couple October 10, 2009 at 10:14 am

Sorry about that, we missed a broken link from our latest migration. Should be up and working now. Thanks for visiting.

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34 Kendra July 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

I made these the other day. OMG. They were so amazing! I was my first time making them. I have a new addiction!….at least it’s healthy!

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35 TONI August 3, 2012 at 4:31 am

Make pesto out of that wonderful basil, oregeno and parsley growing wild right now. Mix equal cups of herbs in food processor with about 4 or 5 gloves of garlic, a cup of your favorite cheese ( I like romano), salt and pepper to taste. Olive oil to the consistency you want. Mix in food processor.

Pour mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. When frozen remove from ice trays and store in freezer bags. Just pop one cube into spaghetti sauce, makes great pizza sauce for white pizza, pesto for pasta, bruschetta or whatever. Easy and good!

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