Asian food isn't necessarily friendly to those who are gluten intolerant. Not only do most of the sauces contain wheat, there are sauces in just about all of the dishes.
Laura Russell , author of The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen, says that doesn't mean it's impossible to make Asian food gluten-free, you just have to read the labels and get creative. Russell says you can avoid soy sauce, which is half soy and half wheat, by using gluten free tamari or fish sauce in its place.
When you are looking for gluten-free Asian sauces, Russell suggests going to your local natural food market or upscale grocery store.
To make sure her recipes deliver on taste as well as being gluten-free, Russell enlisted 25 friends who she says are "all avid wheat eaters" to test her recipes on their families. She said the overwhelming response was positive.
It is easy to take for granted for those who can tolerate gluten, but Russell says cocktail parties are notoriously difficult places to eat if you can't. Most appetizers contain bread, phyllo or puff pastry. So as your creating the menu for your holiday party try these recipes to keep everyone happy.
Salad Rolls with Crab and Spicy Mango Sauce
serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
Don't let working with rice paper intimidate you; I promise it will be old hat after you finish the first few rolls. Besides, you'll want to master the technique as part of your gluten-free arsenal. Once you learn the process, you can craft salad rolls using any ingredients you like, even ones that aren't Asian!
3 ounces dried rice vermicelli
3/4 pound cooked, picked crabmeat (do not use imitation crab; it usually contains gluten)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 small red bell pepper, cut into very thin slices
1 cup shredded lettuce, such as butter or Boston
1/2 cup shredded daikon radish
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
16 (8- to 9-inch-diameter) rice paper wrappers (also called spring roll wrappers or spring roll skins), made from rice flour or tapioca flour
Spicy mango sauce (page 000) or peanut satay sauce (page 000), for serving
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles. Remove the pan from the heat and let the noodles stand in the water until tender, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness. Drain the noodles in a colander and then rinse with cold water. Squeeze any excess water from the noodles. Cut them into shorter lengths with scissors and then transfer them to a large bowl.
Add the crab, carrots, bell pepper, lettuce, radish, cilantro, and mint to the noodles and toss until well combined. Add the lime juice and fish sauce and toss once more.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Put two of the rice paper wrappers in the water and soak until pliable, about 30 seconds. Carefully remove the wrappers from the water and set them on a clean kitchen towel. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the filling on the lower third of each rice paper wrapper and arrange the filling, crosswise, into a log, leaving about a 1-inch border. Bring the lower part of the wrapper up over the filling to enclose it. Fold in the sides of the wrapper over the filling, and then roll into a tight cylinder. Press lightly to seal the edges. Transfer the finished rolls to a platter and cover with a damp paper towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. The rolls can be assembled several hours ahead. Cover them with a damp paper towel ,then plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Serve with the mango sauce or peanut sauce.
Instead of crab, use cooked chicken (I even use store-bought rotisserie chicken sometimes, assuming it's gluten free), bulgogi (page 000), shrimp, tofu, or grilled pork. You will need about 2 cups of bite-sized pieces of any of these.
Spicy Mango Sauce
makes about 11/2 cups
11/4 cups diced fresh or frozen mango (thawed if frozen)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs removed
3/4 teaspoon salt
Combine the mango, cilantro, vinegar, ginger, oil, jalapeño, and salt in a blender. Puree until smooth. The sauce will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
Peanut Satay Sauce
makes about 2 cups
Use this versatile peanut sauce not only as a dip for grilled satay skewers, but also as the backbone for Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken and Peanut Sauce (page 000). The sauce contains a little bit of heat, but you can cut back on it or eliminate it altogether if you think it will scare the kids. The sauce keeps for days, but inevitably thickens as it sits. You can thin the sauce with a little coconut milk, water, or gluten-free chicken broth.
1/2 cup no-stir organic peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari GF
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
2 teaspoons Sriracha or other chili-garlic