Once a month, Salad For President will be catering the staff lunch at Imprint Projects, an innovative creative agency that develops brand platforms for marketing and communications. They work as artists, designers and curators in partnership with non-profits, businesses and communities. Check out some of their work here. (Full disclosure: this is my husband’s company, and yes, I am very proud).
Once a week, this bustling crew of producers and designers stop to eat lunch together and to have a conversation about something other than their work. Such a familial gathering deserves better than tinfoil containers and plastic forks. In lieu of eating take-out, Salad For President will provide the office with a home-cooked meal and a little distraction from the maelstrom of ongoing projects — ranging from building the first skate park in the Bolivian city of La Paz, to producingMoogfest, an upcoming electronic music festival in Asheville, NC.
One of my favorite foods is a Vietnamese Summer Roll: an herbaceous salad in a rice paper wrapper — fresh, filling and pleasantly simple. I crave them daily. When I lived in L.A., this was a staple of my diet. Much to my dismay, it is really difficult to find solid Vietnamese food in New York, even in Chinatown. My main complaint is that the Summer Rolls I find here are not freshly made, and the wrappers lose their glutinous texture. I also find the dipping sauce too sweet, too soupy or with an disconcerting ”canned” flavor. Summer rolls are not fried, so they must be made just before eating, a perfect reason to tackle them in your own kitchen.
I am used to entertaining large parties in the comfort of my own home, but the challenge here was to transport the food over the Manhattan Bridge and into Chinatown. I decided I would make a pile of rolls myself, and then bring the ingredients and inspire a little team building, demonstrating the technique, and then having people teach one another. Food tastes better when it is interactive and collaborative.
This recipe was inspired (again) by Diane Morgan’s book, Roots, but I jazzed up the salmon preparation, added a heap of fresh herbs and adjusted the proportions of the sauce. I love the liberal use of cilantro, mint and basil in Vietnamese cookery, so don’t be shy, use as much herbs per roll as possible. I paired the rolls with a green mango and cabbage slaw, but those ingredients could easily be added to the rolls themselves. Just make sure you are using your trusty julienne vegetable peeler to achieve nice thin strips. No self-respecting Vietnamese chef would be caught dead without one.