I have a love/hate relationship with Iowa’s weather. I love our mild summers, putting on a sweatshirt in the fall, and snowy winters. However, I really only like winter until about December 26th. Once Christmas has come and gone, I’m ready for the snow to melt, the grass to turn green again, and the temperatures to climb back up! The reality of it is, it’s only January 6th so we’ve still got a couple (or a few) months of this cold weather left. This weekend however has been quite a tease – I mean when was the last time Iowa had a day in January that was 55°F?? We enjoyed the weather with a walk to the park, taking down the Christmas lights and a loving up on these Spring Roll Bowls.
Growing up, the only ethnic food I really liked was Mexican…..I despised Chinese food, Thai, sushi, and really anything that wasn’t American or Mexican. I guess you could say I was slightly picky. My husband was the same way….apparently there isn’t much ethnic cuisine in Riceville, Iowa (who knew?? 😉) He was a pretty basic eater….heck, he didn’t see a kiwi fruit until he was a freshman in college! Haha…Anyway, a few years ago, my coworkers and I made a trip to Pho 85 here in Ankeny for a Vietnamese lunch….I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a single clue what Vietnamese cuisine entailed. However, we ordered a variety and I couldn’t believe that I actually liked it all…pho, banh mi, dumplings, and spring rolls..I felt so cultured! Ha!
A couple weeks later, I tried to recreate the spring rolls at home. They certainly weren’t the most beautiful spring rolls ever, but man were they good! Later, it dawned on me that I could just toss all of the components of a spring roll into a bowl, top it with some peanut sauce, and not only was it a gorgeous meal, it was delicious and super healthy. (And bonus – Zach asked if I could put this meal on the weekly rotation – score!) So, for now on, I’ll leave the spring rolls to the pros and make these bowls at home!
Spring Roll Bowls
All the flavors of a spring roll, but in an easy-to-make format!
-1 ½ lb pork tenderloin
-3/4 c pre-made char sui sauce (Chinese barbeque sauce)
-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-1 14-oz pkg rice noodles, prepared
-3 c shredded red cabbage
-1 ½ c shredded carrots
-6-8 radishes, thinly sliced
-1/2 c fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
-Peanut sauce (can use pre-made or make my recipe below!)
1. Julienne the pork tenderloin into strips that are about ½ inch x ½ inch x 4”. (No need to be exact here!)
2. Combine the pork and ½ c of the Chinese barbeque sauce into a plastic baggie, making sure the pork is all covered in sauce. Let the pork marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Once the skillet is hot, add the pork and the remaining sauce and cook until the pork reaches 145F, about 6-7 minutes.
4. Layer each bowl with rice noodles, pork, red cabbage, carrots, radishes, cilantro, (whatever other veggies you’d like to add) and peanut sauce…..Tốt Appetite!! (Bon appetit in Vietnamese 😉)
Peanut Sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together ½ c peanut butter, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp honey, ½ c water, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar, ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, ¼ tsp ground ginger, and ½ tsp garlic powder. (If you are struggling to get the peanut butter mixed in, microwave the mixture for 15 seconds at a time, and whisk until combined, repeating if needed)
There are so many options with this one!
-Don’t have pork tenderloin? Try it with cooked shrimp, beef, or chicken instead
-Mix it up with different veggies – green cabbage, snap peas, red and yellow peppers, avocado….for real, the options are endless!
-Add some crunch with chopped peanuts or sesame seeds on top
-No rice noodles? No prob. Cook up some white rice instead!