International Food Fun – Week 2

I embarked on Week 2 of my goal to fix something new! interesting! exciting! international! for dinner with high hopes.  Not only was I planning to make something I’d never made before, it’s origins were going to be completely exotic.  To top it all off, it was going to be incredibly healthy–no frying involved.  Hold on to your hats, folks.

My inspiration?  This picture from a recipe I discovered on Pinterest.

New?  Check! Interesting?  Absolutely! Exciting?  For sure–that sauce is called chili sauce!  International?  All the way from Vietnam!  Healthy?  With vegetables, seafood, and rice, it better be!

I would like to report that our night with Fresh Spring Rolls was wildly successful.  But it wasn’t.  Instead, I’ve decided to call it a Learning Experience, one that will hopefully prepare me for better meals ahead during my quest for International Food Fun.

This particular food experiment started out well.  I had a good, simple recipe and beautiful step-by-step photographs, thanks to Christy Crafty.  While things didn’t exactly go as planned, I don’t think it was a problem with the recipe, as I’ll explain in a minute.

It took some time for me to assemble the ingredients.  A 15 minute run into the grocery store turned into a 45 minute slow crawl, as I tried to find some of the more exotic ingredients.  I really should have allowed more time to search multiple stores for the exact ingredients, but I talked myself out of it.  “Self,” I asked deprecatingly, “When have you ever followed a recipe to the letter?”

So my shopping trip went like this:  the store was out of fresh mint and cilantro, so I bought green onions.  The store didn’t have bean thread noodles, so I bought rice noodles.  Superkid doesn’t like shrimp, so I got grilled steak strips.  You get the picture?

Once at home, I set up a spring roll making station and started following Christy’s Fresh Spring Roll recipe and directions to the best of my abilities. 

Superkid helped.  Here she is, modeling rice paper.

Thanks to Christy’s instructions, the assembly went very well.  

I made some of our spring rolls with steak, and some with tiny shrimp.  Since my meat was already cooked, there was no need to use my stove, oven, or microwave for this meal.  Perfect for summer evenings.

I was pretty pleased with how my spring rolls were turning out.  They looked artistic and delicious.

Then, we sat down to eat spring rolls for dinner.  Everyone tried them willingly, because the spring rolls were so pretty.  Unfortunately, even with the authentic dipping sauce to accompany them, they were {sigh} incredibly bland.  It was a big disappointment.

So what have I learned?  Several useful lessons I can apply to future international food fun nights:

  • if you are making something new and international, take the time to find the ingredients as they are listed in the recipe you are using.
  • DON’T substitute ingredients that sound a little weird to you with ingredients that are a little more familiar.  You’re not familiar with the taste of the food you are creating, so how can you make correct substitutions?
  • Do plan ahead for international food fun nights, with the recognition that you may have to go to more than one store to find the right ingredients.
  • Do get kids involved with the making of the new food.  Would Superkid have been willing to try spring rolls otherwise?  I’m guessing not.
On the plus side, I still have a lot of rice papers left.  Maybe I can go find some fresh mint and cilantro and try again.  Wish me luck!
Have you ever set out to make a new recipe with high hopes, and had it turn out to be a total flop?
Check out some of my other recipes, here.
A Trip to Holland Recipes


  1. whoa thanks for the tutorial! that looks like something I’d love to try. Great post!

    Lovely Little Rants

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