“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”~ Jim Jarmusch
Fresh Spring Roll with Smoked Chicken and Grilled Tofu
- 2 chicken breast
- 1 block tofu
- ½ cup uncooked rice
- ½ cup black tea leaves
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken into small pieces
- 2 star anise, broken into small pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons grated ginger
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
Rice Paper Roll
- 20 Vietnamese rice paper sheets
- 1 small head lettuce
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 1 cucumber, cut into 10 cm batons
- 5 ounces rice vermicelli
- Spring Thai basil, lemon basil, mint leaves
- 2 large red chillies, deseeded
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ cup fish sauce
- 1 cups white vinegar
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup water
- pinch salt
Tea Smoked Chicken
- Combine all the marinated ingredients in a medium sauce bowl. Set aside half of marinade for the grilled tofu.
- Place the rest of marinade and the chicken breast in a sealable plastic bag and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Drain the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the chicken lightly with the oil. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken on both sides, about 2-3 minutes on both sides.
- Meanwhile, prepare the wok for smoking. Double line bottom of the inside wok with a heavy duty foil, leaving 3-inch overhang along the edges. Mix all the smoking ingredients together and place in foil lined wok, spread it in a ¼ inch thick layer on a bottom of a wok. Place a rack or steamer over the rice mixture. Make sure that the rack not directly touching the bottom and there is 1-2 inch space for smoke to circulate. Heat wok, uncovered, over high heat for about 5-10 minutes until smoke appears. Reduce heat to moderate, cover wok, and fold overhang from wok and lid together, crimping foil tightly. Smoke duck breast for 12 minutes, then remove wok from heat and let it stand, covered for about 10 minutes. Let it cool and shredded into medium pieces once it cool.
- Cut the tofu into eight equal portions, then place in a single layer in flat dish. Pour the marinade over the tofu and turn to coat all over. Marinate for at least 30 minutes until 1 hour.
- Preheat barbeque grill to high. Cook the tofu for 2 minutes on each side, or until charred and crisp.
- Make the dipping sauce by lightly pounding garlic, chillies, and sugar together using mortar and pestle, then stir in vinegar, lime juice, water, and fish sauce, stir until the sugar dissolved.
- Assemble all the prepared filling ingredients. Take a damp kitchen towel and lay it on a chopping board. Take one of rice paper sheet and dip it in a bowl of warm water, moving it around until the whole wrapper is soft- about 15 seconds; you will need the rice paper roll not too soft and still hold its shape. Lay out the rice paper on the damp cloth, you will find the rice paper become softer on damp cloth as it absorbs moisture.
- Add lettuce on top of rice paper and start to layer the ingredients. First place a cooked rice vermicelli followed by shredded chicken, grilled tofu, cucumber, carrot, and some herbs on top – don’t overstuff the roll.
- Gently pull up the edge of wrapper, holding the filling in positions with your fingers, and start rolling up tightly. After fold it once, the fold the sides of wrapper over the filling so that it completely enclosed, continue rolling until the whole rice paper is rolled up.
- To finish, slice it in half and transfer to a serving plate. Serve dipping sauce.