Deliciously Easy Hand Held Bundles to Stuff, Wrap & Relish
by Nina Simonds (William Morrow)
you've been wrapped up in wraps the last few years and think you've
had your fill, leave a little room for Nina Simonds' Asian Wraps.
Wraps, of course, have been the hottest thing to hit the sandwich
world since sliced bread. And that's precisely their function, to
take the place of sliced bread. Flour tortillas, or other "wrappers,"
are topped with tempting fillings, rolled and tucked. With all the
outstanding rustic, home-style "boutique" breads on the market today,
though, I frankly never understood the pull of wraps. I'd rather
have my sandwich filling safely ensconced between two thick slices
of a stunning rosemary or kalamata olive bread. But Simonds prompted
me to leave my bread for breakfast toasting. Her wraps are glorious
concoctions of bold flavors with good reason to be wrapped. In Asian
tradition, she uses such wrappings as spring roll, egg roll, won
ton, dumpling, nori and rice wrappers and lotus and cabbage leaves.
sure hand with Asian cuisine (she's written many acclaimed Asian
cookbooks, including Asian Noodles and Classic Chinese
Cuisine) is apparent in the more than 75 beautifully photographed
recipes. She clearly explains all ingredients.
leaves, for example, would be used for steamed packages of food
and can be replaced by parchment paper. Cooks of Chinese food often
like the perfume the leaves lend to their steamed packets of rice
and meat. The leaves are not eaten and need to be softened before
use in hot water. When buying Mandarin pancakesa staple in
Northern China available in the U.S. frozen in Asian markets and
as takeout from some Chinese restaurantslook for thin ones.
Known to restaurant patrons as the wrapping for mu shu pork, they
are also wonderful stuffed with barbecued poultry and can be replaced
by flour tortillas. Simonds also tells you how to make your own
Mandarin pancakes. Once you've gotten your hands on some Mandarin
pancakes, you can get an idea of Simonds' savvy styleshe offers
both traditional and trendy turns.
Shu Shrimp starts with a classic marinade of rice wine or saké,
fresh ginger and sesame oil. The shrimp is stir-fried with egg,
Chinese black mushrooms, leeks, Chinese cabbage and more fresh ginger
and rice wine or saké. A traditional hoisin sauce is made from soy
sauce, sugar, ground black pepper, cornstarch and rice wine or saké
and then smeared onto the Mandarin pancake.
Lamb With Flash-Cooked Fennel, though, is Simonds' completely original
take on what would make an outstanding Mandarin pancake filling.
The filling of seared sliced lamb with pink center is tossed with
slices of fennel, red bell pepper and scallions and a light soy
sauce-Chinese black vinegar (or Worcestershire) dressing.
repeats these kinds of traditional/trendy scenarios with similarly
sumptuous results. She'll tell you, for instance, how to make wonderful
classics like won tons (and spicy Sichuan ones), Chinese dumplings,
Vietnamese spring rolls (and Chinese and Cantonese ones) and sushi.
But she'll probably dazzle you even more with her own inventive
wraps such as Chinese Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa in flour tortillas,
Grilled Miso Salmon With Sweet-and-Sour Cucumbers in butter lettuce
wrappers, Barbecued Halibut with Spicy Cilantro Paste in flour tortillas
and Fried Wild Mushroom Rice Wraps in Chinese cabbage leaves served
with a spicy Korean dipping sauce. To wrap up this whole thing,
following is one of Simonds' takes on a classic recipe followed
by a purely modern turn.
Chinese Spring Rolls
Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa
(Updated: 10/30/08 SB)