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Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce


My friend, architect Sharon Johnston, shared a great story with me about her six year old daughter Lilly’s kitchen adventures, and her recent success making Chan Luu’s Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce (from the “Kids in the Kitchen” chapter of The Family Dinner):

“One of the great delights of summer so far in our family has been our daughter Lilly’s discovery of the pleasure of cooking. Having just completed a busy year of kindergarten, where her class spent time most every Friday on a collaborative cooking project, we are so happy to see how much Lilly enjoys each step from menu selection, preparation, and of course the yummy results. It’s so nice to observe the confidence and pleasure that Lilly takes in measuring, chopping and arranging, and how those experiences inspire her choices when she is at the farmer’s market.

“Now for this delicious recipe. We are always thinking about creative ways to get as many veggies in our daily menus and wraps are a fun way to do that. Chan Luu’s Tofu Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce [page 137 of The Family Dinner] bring together some of our favorite fresh and crunchy vegetables, all wrapped up in the beautiful rice paper noodles so you can still see all the beautiful colors and textures within. The dipping sauce, a favorite for most all kids, is velvety and crunchy and this make each bite a great surprise. And best of all, we gathered together as a family over dinner to enjoy the dish together and plan our next menu.”

Why not try this summer roll recipe (contributed by our friend Chan Luu from Nhatrang, Vietnam) with your kids? Make it in advance, or bring the rice paper noodles and vegetables to the table and let everyone make their own salad roll.


1 package firm tofu, drained 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 package round Vietnamese rice paper noodles (can be found in the Asian section of most gourmet markets), about 8–9 inches in diameter
1 small bag (5–6 ounces) mixed baby lettuce (preferably spicy mix)
Thin slices of cucumber (2 slices per roll)
Julienned or shredded carrot (about 1 tablespoon per roll)
Fried shallots (can be found in most Asian markets)
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch garlic chives (or regular chives)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pat the tofu dry using a paper towel, and then coat the tofu with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. On a nonstick baking pan, bake the tofu until the outside layer is golden and crispy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it completely cool, then cut it into thin slices.

Prepare a clean surface on your kitchen counter. Have ready a bowl of warm water and a clean kitchen towel. Dip one of the rice paper noodles into the water very quickly. Let the water drip off the rice paper, and then lay it on the kitchen counter. To avoid too much water — which could make the rice paper soggy — use the kitchen towel to remove any excess water.

On the corner nearest to you, about 1 inch above the edge of the rice paper, start layering some mixed lettuce, tofu, 2 slices of cucumber, a pinch of carrot, a pinch of shallot, 2 mint leaves, 2 basil leaves, some cilantro, and some garlic chives. Pick up that end of the rice paper, fold it over the vegetables, then start rolling (away from you), slightly pressing as you roll so that your roll will be tight when it’s finished. Be sure to let the tip of the garlic chives show through at the end.

YOU NEED (For the peanut sauce)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 cup water
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped roasted peanuts


Pour the vegetable oil into a small cooking pot. Over medium heat, fry the garlic until it’s golden. Mix in the hoisin, peanut butter, and 1 cup of water. Reduce the heat and stir until everything is well combined and the consis- tency of heavy cream (if it’s too thick, add some water). Sprinkle in a pinch of cayenne pepper. Garnish the sauce with crushed peanuts on top and serve at room temperature with Tofu Summer Rolls.


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