Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

This is an all-time favorite at my house. Very healthy feeling, fun to eat, and they will be good when the weather gets too hot to cook. I took cues for the peanut sauce from this wonderful book on Asian cooking.

Prepare the peanut sauce first:
Heat a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mince 2-3 cloves of garlic. When pan is hot, add olive oil and garlic, fry until garlic is golden.

Grind 1/2 cup roasted peanuts to small pieces (but not peanut butter) in a food processor. Add to the fried garlic in the pan. Stir fry until peanuts darken and release some natural oil, about 3 min.

Now add:
1 C veggie or chicken stock
1/2 C coconut milk (the lite kind is ok for this)
2 TB tamarind extract
2 TB fish sauce
1/4 C palm sugar or brown sugar
2 minced chilis (either thai or jalapeno chilis)

Continue to gently boil, about 20 min. Serve with cilantro in personal dipping cups/ramekins.

Assemble Salad Rolls:
Cut firm tofu into 1/2 inch logs
Cut half a cucumber into thin strips
Slice green onion/scallion
Grate 2-3 carrots (easiest in food processor)
Optional: soak thin vermicelli/rice noodles in boiling water
Optional: clean break off stems of thai basil leaves

Soak one rice paper wrapper in hot water for 30-45 sec or until soft. Now place on a plate or cutting board, and add the prepared ingredients from above. Roll up tightly like a burrito. As the rolls sit for 5 minutes, they will dry slightly and be easier to pick up. Don't let them sit out too long, the rice paper dries out and gets tough (not good for leftovers).

Serve with peanut dipping sauce. Serve approx 3 rolls with sauce for dinner/lunch.

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