These vegan black garlic tofu and mango spring rolls are a unique spin on traditional flavors! Serve with a sweet and savory peanut dipping sauce.
Before we went to Vietnam last year, I had dreams of learning to create authentic versions of all the delicious food we ate on our trip. Then after a street food tour of Hoi An where we learned just how much time and effort went into perfecting each dish, how street food vendors spend their lives cooking the same dish each and every day, passing their secrets down to their children, I realized authenticity was kind of a silly dream. Now when I’m craving Vietnamese, I go to a local Vietnamese run restaurant or if cooking at home, use the recipes as inspiration, not a rule. Kind of like I did with these black garlic tofu and mango spring rolls! Not authentic at all, but SO delicious and packed with summer flavor.
When we were in Vietnam, we sampled dozens of different spring rolls with different types of rice paper wrappers, fillings, and sauces. Also, using rice paper to make rolls out of shrimp pancakes or grilled pork skewers with herbs at the table was really common. When I spotted these brown rice paper rolls at Earth Fare, on a whim I decided to whip up spring rolls with what I had on hand.
Impulse buy number 2 – black garlic from Trader Joes. It had been sitting in my vegetable basket at least a week or so while I tried to figure out what on earth to make with it. All the recipes I found were a little too chefy for me (black garlic ice cream….errr, no thanks). In the end, I simply blended it up with tamari to make a simple sauce for pan seared tofu.
If you’ve never tried black garlic before (I hadn’t!), it’s a typically Asian ingredient made by slowly caramelizing whole heads of garlic over the course of a few weeks. It tastes sweet and just barely garlicky, more like balsamic vinegar or a savory jam to me. If you can’t find it, honestly you could just leave it out and swap flavored baked tofu or plain pan seared tofu. While you can taste the rich and savory flavor it lends behind the sweet mango, fresh herbs and peanut sauce, it’s not super obvious, so feel free to let those flavors shine.
Rolling spring rolls can be a little tricky, but the good news is they don’t have to be pretty, just edible. Rice paper gets soft with just a couple seconds in warm water, no boiling needed. Layer the ingredients in a line down the middle, fold the edges in, then roll. It’s kinda like making a mini burrito!
- Black Garlic Tofu:
- 1 lb block firm tofu
- 6 peeled black garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Spring Rolls:
- 8 ounce package brown rice paper rolls
- 8 ounce bag cellophane noodles
- 2 mangos, peeled and sliced
- 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded, stemmed and sliced
- ½ cup lightly packed mint leaves
- 1½ cups sprouts or microgreens
- Dipping Sauce:
- ⅔ cup coconut milk
- ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chili oil (or ½ teaspoon chili flakes)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Remove block of tofu from container. Wrap with paper towels or a kitchen towel and place on a plate topped with a heavy can to drain for 30 minutes.
- While tofu is draining, make the dipping sauce. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor and puree until well combined. Taste and season with salt to taste. Pour out into bowl and clean out blender or food processor to use for making black garlic sauce.
- Blend together black garlic, soy sauce and water until pureed. Set aside. Cut the tofu in half through it's widest part, then cut into thin sticks. Heat sesame oil on medium high heat. Add tofu and sear. Flip every 3 minutes until most of the tofu is crispy and lightly browned. Pour in sauce, cook until thick and mostly of the liquid is evaporated, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside until ready to use.
- Cook rice vermicelli according to package directions. Using kitchen shears, cut into the noodles making 3-4 cuts so they aren't quite so long.
- Arrange the spring roll fillings (tofu, noodles, mango, cucumber, pepper, mint and sprouts for easy assembling.
- When ready to assemble, fill a shallow bowl with very warm water. Dip a rice paper roll into the water, pressing gently to submerge until pliable, about 10-20 seconds. Remove, shake off extra water and place on work space. Press 2 mint leaves down the center of the wrapper. Top with 2-3 sticks of tofu. Top with a small handful of rice vermicelli noodles, cucumber, red pepper, mango and sprouts. Be careful not to overstuff. Fold top and bottom edges over the edges of the filling. Carefully wrap one of the edges not covered in filling over the top of the filling, then roll into a roll, pressing in the edges and filling as needed to keep it compact. Set aside and repeat with remaining rice paper rolls and filling.
- Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.