Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wrap 'n roll, anyone?

 With all of the diversity of culture within the greater military family,  one result is a hotbed of good food and entertainment.   I thought that I would be a good friend and share an idea (actually, I may be documenting the specifics more for myself in a place where I know I can find them) that requires  a minimum of preparation and absolutely no serving by the hostess at mealtime and is different, fun, and delicious!  A couple of days ago, I was invited to a "Wrap and Roll."  I was intrigued by the title of the event.  It was to occur at 6:00 in the evening, and the emailed invitation with attached flyer informed the recipients that we were going to learn to make spring rolls and sushi--thus the name, wrap and roll.   Yea!  Thanh and Rachel are my sushi buddies, and thanks to Sri Son (an extended family member), our whole family had at least a working knowledge of spring rolls.   However, I have never made my own!  Since it was a girls only party, I left Roy to his own devices for searching the frig for food and merrily went on my way.  When I arrived at the home where the event was to take place, I noticed the dining room table was set with wooden dinner plates and a container of chopsticks with no forks in sight.  There were two fun-loving hostesses who had prepared a terrific experience for a small group of women whom I had never met in my life except for the two who planned it, and amid much laughter the evening began to unfold as large platters were place in the middle of the table.

We were going to make the spring rolls first.  Rather than try to explain step by step, it is easier to provide a link that contains a tutorial explaining exactly what we did with the exception of putting chicken in the spring roll.  We used shrimp as you can see in the picture. 
The peanut sauce was to die for!  Luckily, all of us loved peanut butter, and no one had food allergies (You might want to poll your guests beforehand for such issues as there are other choices for sauces).

After we each had mastered the idea of making a spring roll to our own taste and presentation, we ate, talked and laughed ourselves through several more.  As we began to wind down, one of our hostesses swapped the first platters out for the second set of pre-assembled platters containing the ingredients for making sushi (not expertly rolled sushi, but our own versions).

The ingredients for the sushi were cooked, roasted, sauteed or marinated--no raw fish for this group.  Our meat, for this dish, was cooked salmon resting on a bed of roasted cloves of garlic, or as the shrimp was deliberately left on the table, it could be used as well.  This time the vegetables were julienned carrots marinated in rice vinegar for several hours until they were soft,  julienned cucumber, white radish sprouts and avocado.  We used the traditional sheets of seaweed or nori (which we broke into fourths), and what I call sticky rice completed our list of ingredients!  I am including another tutorial link Making California rolls that is rather similiar to what we did minus rolling the sushi in sesame seeds.  As we ate our creations, we dipped them into the soy sauce and wasabi mixture. (If you are unfamiliar with wasabi, carefully blend a small amount of wasabi with the soy sauce.  Years ago at a Chinese restaurant in Virginia Beach, my husband had the unfortunate experience of eating what he thought to be soup to be eaten liberally but was rather a sauce to be used lightly--bringing tears to his eyes in the eating and tears to my eyes in the telling!)  By the time we reached the end of the meal, an awesome American apple crisp with ice cream,  we stood around the kitchen casually talking like old friends, holding our desserts in hand, and feeling thankful for two ladies who dared to be different and prepare an awesome bonding experience for us.

If you should choose to do this, I am certain that a culturally-correct invited expert might be a great idea for teaching purposes, but we were novices and the more creative and less worried we were about correctness, the more fun it was.  Also, if Asian food is not your forte, I'm thinking the concept could be applied to other ethnic foods as well with an equally clever title for the event.