Top Chefs Kids Menu: Salmon Rolls


by KIM HOLCOMB / Evening Magazine

Bio | Email | Follow: @KimHolcomb

Posted on December 23, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 23 at 3:59 PM

Taylor Hoang is a mega-working mom.
In addition to raising 20-month-old Max and 4-year-old Ella, she owns Lavender Jade Catering and Pho Cyclo Cafe. Known for fresh, authentic Vietnamese cuisine and a family-friendly atmosphere, there are four Pho Cyclo locations in the Seattle area.
"It's a balancing act," she said.
Like other busy parents, she wants easy recipes at home, with ingredients that will satisfy both of her kids' tastes.
"They have preferences," she said. "For example, my son Max loves tomatoes. Whereas my daughter Ella hates tomatoes."
Salmon rolls are a way to appease everyone, because they're assembled at the table.
"The kids each get to make their own roll, so they can add whichever ingredients they want," Hoang said.
While the kids played, Hoang took care of the prep work. She cut up pork and made a quick marinade out of scallions, fish sauce and ginger. Then she scored a piece of salmon - slicing it without cutting all the way through - and stuffed the pork inside.
"It keeps the salmon, when you're baking it, from drying out," she explained.
It also gives her kids two choices.
"Ella gets the meat, Max gets the fish, and daddy and mommy get to eat the leftovers," Hoang laughed.
The recipe isn't strict. Any of the vegetables or proteins can be substituted. In just 30 minutes, the salmon is done and the rolls are ready for assembly.
It's like choosing the toppings for a pizza, but with fresher, healthier ingredients. Ella picked pork, noodles, and lettuce for her spring roll, and rolled the rice paper herself.
"They kind of take ownership of what they're making, and they love it," Hoang said, as Ella finished eating her roll. "It's a really fresh, easy meal that we can do really fast at home."
1 package of large rice paper to serve at table.  Bring 2 bowls of medium hot water to table to dip rice paper prior to rolling
Green Leaf lettuce                                                                       1 Bundle
Herbs: (herbs can be interchanged or add on depending on what you like)
Cilantro                                                                            ½ bundle
Mint                                                                                  1 pack
Thai basil                                                                         ½ bundle
Dill                                                                                    1 pack
Clean and wash lettuce and herbs (for herbs: use the leaves and discard the hard stems). Plate a large platter of lettuce with mixed herbs and set on table.
Fish sauce                                                                                     1/2 cup
Sugar                                                                                              1 cup
Water                                                                                              1 cup
Distilled white vinegar                                                                 3 tsp
Chopped garlic                                                                              1 tsp
Chilli paste (to taste)                                                                    1 tsp
In a medium size bowl, mix water and sugar together.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Place unused sauce in refrigerator, sauce can keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.  Great for dressing on salad or vegetables.
Vermicelli Noodles:
½ package of Vietnamese vermicelli noodles
Follow instruction on package for cooking or… in medium size pot, bring half pot of water to a broil.  Add a pinch of salt to water.  Place dried vermicelli in pot.  Let noodles cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Check for desired doness, then poor noodles into a colander to drain and rinse noodles with warm water to wash off excess starch.
Salmon fillet                                                                                  1lb (About 6 oz per person)
Pork Butt                                                                                        ½ lbs, julienned or cut into small strips
Ginger                                                                                             1 small root, finely minced
Green onion                                                                                   1 bundle, finely chopped
Chopped peanuts                                                                         1/3 cup
Fish sauce                                                                                      1 TBS
Sugar                                                                                               1 TBS
Black pepper                                                                                  1 tsp
Preheat oven at 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, sugar, and black pepper, stir well.  Then add pork, ginger, and 1/3 of chopped green onions in bowl and mix well to combine ingredients.  Let stand for 10 minutes to marinate while you prepare salmon for baking.  Place salmon fillet on a baking pan.  With a small knife, score a few shallow perpendicular cuts into the fillet about 2 inches apart per cut, but do not cut all the way through.  Then stuff marinated pork into precut strips, surround salmon with any leftover pork.  Cover salmon with tin foil.  Bake salmon for 10 minutes covered then remove foil and bake uncovered for another 10-20 minutes depending on the size of fillet.  Check for doness by lightly pressing on the thickest part of the salmon.  If it comes off firm than it is done. 
Place chopped green onions in a small bowl, drizzle about 2 tbsp of olive oil on top and place in microwave.  Cook for 40 seconds. 
When salmon is finished baking, remove from heat and spoon green onions on top, then sprinkle chopped peanuts.  Bring to table and serve.