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the taiwanese edition

Light and fresh lunches: Tailor-made, wordly recipes from Congress' Chef de Cuisine

Editor's note: Rebecca Meeker is the Chef de Cuisine of Congress, the only restaurant in Austin to receive five-stars from the Austin American Statesman. She has studied and worked in the finest establishments around the world and brings those experiences to her new column, "Light and fresh lunches," in which she instructs the every-man how to prepare tasty, balanced midday meals. 

It was 2009 and I had just moved to Taipei, Taiwan to open L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. I was starving. I decided to venture out of my freshly unpacked apartment in the Xin-Yi district. My new neighborhood was overflowing with restaurants and carts serving street food.

The sights, smells and sounds were amazing, but with the language barrier between my neighbors and myself, I was slightly overwhelmed. Circling the street blocks in a bit of culture shock, I mustered up the courage to approach one of the street food carts.

I stopped in front of a tiny stand, behind which crouched a wizened woman. She wrapped rice paper around nori (thin, dried seaweed sheets) and various mixtures of Chinese sausage, shrimp, pork, peanuts, carrots, cabbage and dozens of other heavenly-smelling options with devastating speed and dexterity. I ordered one with a few points and gestures, took a bite and quickly fell in love with my new home.

After settling in to my surroundings and job, I began making my own wraps at home using fresh ingredients I found in the markets.

 

 

Several years later and back in Austin, I still enjoy making and eating rice paper-nori wraps. They’re the perfect to-go snack: fast, simple to make and delicious. Pairing it with a berry smoothie made with non-fat Greek yogurt makes for a great, light lunch.

As a chef, I tend to have (more than) slightly irregular dining habits. I need my meals quickly and frequently, often at strange times of the day. These three wraps have protein, vigorous vegetables and traditional Asian spices to add delicious flavor and umami.

Shopping for Asian goods is made easy with Chong Choe, Austinite and owner of Hana World Market, located on West Parmer Lane.

Whether I’m shopping for myself at the market or for Congress through Minamoto Foods (Choe’s wholesale operation), Choe and his team make the difficulty of sourcing Asian goods non-existent.

Enjoy the following three recipes and how-to guides!

 

 

 

BEET SALAD NORI WRAP: MAKES 4 WRAPS

(Divide beet salad equally into each wrap)
4 sheets roce paper wrapper 
2 sheets nori paper halved
2 cups roasted red beets, peeled and chopped
1 grapefruit, segments cut in half (save the juice)
1 cup red grapes, quartered
1 shallot, chopped
½ cup chopped red shisho
½ avocado, cut into slices (2 slices per roll)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 tbs toasted black sesame seeds
1/3 cup tbs ponzu

HOW TO (ROASTED BEETS):

- Preheat your oven to 425 F.
- Wrap 2 medium sized beets in foil.
- Place on a sheet pan and put in the oven.
- Cook for 25 minutes, or until the beets are cooked through.
- Leave them at room temperature, or until cool enough to - handle.
- Remove the foil and peel the skin off the beets.
- Cut the beets into small dice.

HOW TO (BEET SALAD):

- In a medium sized bowl, combine beets, grapefruit segments, grapes, shallots, avocado, bean sprouts and shisho.
- In a small bowl, combine ponzu, grapefruit juice and black sesame seeds.
- Pour the ponzu mixture over the beet salad and set aside.

 

 

 

 

ASSEMBLE:

- Soak one rice paper wrapper at a time in a shallow dish of very hot water until softened, about 30 seconds.
- Lift out and let excess water drip off and lay on a dry cutting board or your kitchen counter surface.
- Lay 1 piece of nori centered vertically on top of the rice wrapper.
- Center the beet salad in the bottom third of the wrapper on top of the nori.
- Fold the wrapper over the filling.
- Start rolling into a tight cylinder.
- Stop rolling about half way to fold in both sides.
- Continue rolling until the wrap is a tight cylinder.
- Assemble the remaining wraps the same way.

 
 
 

EGG WHITE NORI WRAP: MAKES 4 WRAPS

(Divide ingredients equally into each wrap)
4 sheets rice paper wrapper  
2 sheets nori paper halved  
4 ea eggs
4 slices of soft tofu
12 basil leaves
12 mind leaves
12 coriander leaves
2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup sliced cucumbers
¼ cup toasted peanuts
Siriracha

 

 

 

 

 

HOW TO (EGGS):

- In a medium size pot, gently place the eggs inside with enough cold water to cover the eggs completely (one inch of water over the top of the eggs). 
- Place on the stove on medium to high heat.
- Bring to a rapid boil, remove pan from heat and cover egg pan tightly with a lid. Set the timer for 16 minutes. 
- After 16 minutes, remove lid and drain off water from the eggs. Leave the hard cooked eggs in the pan where they were cooked and add cold water to cool for 10 minutes. 
- Crack the eggs under cold water and peel. Slice eggs and set aside.

ASSEMBLE:

- Soak one rice paper wrapper at a time in a shallow dish of very hot water until softened, about 30 seconds.
- Lift out and let excess water drip off and lay on a dry cutting board or your kitchen counter surface.
- Lay 1 piece of nori centered vertically on top of the rice wrapper.
- Center the eggs, tofu, basil, mint, coriander, bean sprouts, cucumber and peanuts in the bottom third of the wrapper on top of the nori.
- Drizzle siriracha on top of the ingredients.
- Fold the wrapper over the filling.
- Start rolling into a tight cylinder.
- Stop rolling about half way to fold in both sides.
- Continue rolling until the wrap is a tight cylinder.
- Assemble the remaining wraps the same way.

 

 

 

 

KIMCHI NORI WRAP: MAKES 4 WRAPS

(Divide ingredients equally into each wrap)
4 sheets rice paper wrapper
2 sheets nori paper halved
8 oz. marinated flank steak
2 cups pear kimchi
4 pieces of bib lettuce

MARINADE:

½ cup soy sauce
½ cup rice vinegar 
¼ cup Texas wildflower honey 
2 tbs sesame oil
1 Korean pear, peeled and medium diced
½ white onion, peeled and medium diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and medium diced
1 tsp ginger, peeled and chopped

HOW TO (STEAK + MARINADE):

- In a medium size bowl, add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey and sesame oil. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add the pear, onion, garlic and ginger. Puree until smooth.
- Add the puree to the soy sauce base.
- Add the flank steak to the marinade and mix well.
- Place in an airtight container.
- Keep in the refrigerator for 24 hours. 

Then:
- Bring the marinated steak to room temperature. 
- Turn grill on high and grill the steak for 4 minutes on each side.
- Let rest for 10 minutes. Slice steak against the grain and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

KOREAN PEAR KIMCHI:

1 head Napa cabbage, cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2-inch pieces
Salt
Cold water
1 Korean pear, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 bunch scallions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2-inch piece ginger, chopped
Hot pepper paste
Soy sauce
Fish sauce
Salt
Sugar

HOW TO (PEAR KIMCHI):

- In a large bowl, toss the cabbage and salt.
- Add enough fold water to just cover the cabbage. Cover with plastic and let sit and room temperature for 12 hours.
- Strain through a colander in the sink and rinse with cold water.
- Squeeze out the excess water and transfer to a medium bowl.
- Toss with the pear, scallion, garlic and ginger.
- In a small bowl mix together the hot pepper paste, soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and sugar. 
- Add the pepper paste mixture to the cabbage mixture and gently mix well.
- Store in an airtight container. Keep in your refrigerator.

ASSEMBLE:

- Soak one rice paper wrapper at a time in a shallow dish of very hot water until softened, about 30 seconds.
- Lift out and let excess water drip off and lay on a dry cutting board or your kitchen counter surface.
- Lay 1 piece of nori centered vertically on top of the rice wrapper. 
- Center the bib lettuce, pear kimchi and grilled flank steak in the bottom third of the wrapper on the nori.
- Fold the wrapper over the filling.
- Start rolling into a tight cylinder.
- Stop rolling about half way to fold in both sides.
- Continue rolling until the wrap is a tight cylinder.
- Assemble the remaining wraps the same way.