Hunger has its own logic, doesn’t it? I don’t mean the everyday pangs one becomes accustomed to after a long day in the cubicle, the kind easily remedied by a few bites of fruit or the occasional order of cheese fries. I mean… HUNGER. The sort of desperate and carnal weakness that overpowers your entire body. It moves at times all the way from the searing pain along your temples to the feet that can barely move – the sort of creeping desperate, agony where your soul is in panic mode but your body cannot rescue you.
I know those moments. And bad things happen. It is only due to the tenderest of mercies that I no longer pop sugar packets. I am still, prone, however, to making this thing that I like to call a “Flattie” but is basically fried dough. Two parts AP flour, one part water, small pinch of salt, 1/2t bp per cup of flour. stir, knead, pattie, fry flip. You can tart it up any number of ways – cook two strips of bacon and use the rendered fat as your cooking medium, you can top it with cheese, you can mince scallions into it or spriknle a dash of cayenne into the batter.
No matter what you do, however, you still bascially have fried dough. This loveless, lifeless hunk of carb that does little for you but coat your kitchen in clumps of flour and paste while rendering you little more than “Temporarily Not Hungry.”
Fortunately, I think I discovered a better option.
Now, my Midwestern prarie hardwiring that demands I have a well stocked pantry at all times. Atkins nightmare that it may be, I’ll always have flour, rice, potatoes, course-ground cornmeal, pasta, and lentils around. I have enough spices to keep things interesting and I’ll usually have milk, eggs and butter, and, more often than not, cheese, at least parm. Include canned tomatoes, pork products, chicken broth in the freezer, and I’m set. I try to keep enough dry staples and dairy around so that if, hypothetically, I can’t go to the grocery store for a couple of weeks, I’ll be okay.
There are also certain veggies I keep around, too, salad bags, onions, carrots, mushrooms and, as of recently, napa cabbage. I’m really starting to like the stuff, for reasons that I cannot identify but for the time being, am not going to question. It’s bright without being obtrusive, filling without being bulky, and can be used to even out harsh flavors, and it seems to keep for a while.
Before I cause some kind of international incident, let me emphasize that I’ve been trying really hard NOT to call these “Spring Rolls.” Think of it more as “an Asian-thematic slaw bound lightly by a clumsy vinagrette and rolled into comically mis-hydrated wrappers I picked up at Jungle Jims. Call them whatever you want. However, I really like them. They take ten minutes to make, take advantage of stuff I tend to keep around, and taste fantastic. Because the veggies are cut so thinly, the filling really does have a density to it that is emotionally satisfying to eat when you are hungry. But instead of a “starchy” filling, it’s more of a vegetal, bright filling thats more encouraging than overpowering.
Tweaks are easy. You can add ground pork or fabricate a vietnamese dipping sauce or substitute bean sprouts for the mushrooms or if you are feeling especially sassy, deep fry them. The big improvement *I* am hopin gto make as I go along is to learn to roll these effectively. I don’t know if I’m overstuffing or if the filling is too close/far/away from the edge or I’m just don’t have the manual dexterity called for.
“Asian Hunger Rolls”
1 cup napa cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, grated
6 button mushrooms, finely chopped
4 Spring roll sheets made from rice flour.
3T peanut oil
1T rice wine vinager
a few drops each of soy and peanut oils
Combine the chopped veggies. Make your vinagrette separately then stir the finished dressing into your slaw. Meanwhile, hyrdrate your wrappers, one at a time, in warm water for about fifteen seconds each, until just after you can roll the wrapper into a ball without it snapping in two.
Place a couple of tablespoons of the slaw about 1/2 inch from the bottom of the hydrated roll. With your thumb and two fingers, roll the roll a few inches while using your remaining fingers to tuck in the edges. Curse Jeff this entire time, because the instructions i’m offering may be completely wrong. But dude just roll the things and try to keep them neat. It’s late and you’re hungry.
Slice each roll in half. (On the bias, b/c it looks cool) Serve with soy sauce.