One of my favorite Asian restaurants in Seattle is the Tamarind Tree. It is a Vietnamese restaurant located in the international district, tucked away in a little corner. But it is definitely worth visiting if you haven’t been. If you are going on the weekends, please do make a reservation there is usually at least a 30 minutes wait during that time at night.
At the Tamarind Tree you can sit in the main dinning room, and my preference is right next to the fire, or you can sit outside with the heat lights and waterfall. Either way the place is always busy.
The menu is pretty daunting, it’s large and many things sound amazing. But there are 4 key items I always order and would recommend.
Tofu rolls– Salad roll with fresh herbs and fried tofu served with vegetarian soy sauce. Even if you do not like tofu you will like these rolls. I always order these.
Hai Nam chicken rice pot. Rice cooked in chicken broth and fresh coconut juice topped with steamed chicken served with ginger fish sauce. This dish is very comforting. Rice pot served with some great things in it so good. Perfect for a cold night.
Chicken ginger vodka – Skinless chicken braised overnight in vodka infused ginger. Deliciously prepared chicken.
Chili beef lemongrass
Beef slices stir fried with fresh lemongrass, freshly chopped chili peppers, white onion, and green onion. A spicy dish but filled with lots of amazing flavors.
There are many other things on the menu that are good but these are my favorite. Let me know what else you like to order here.
I love the Tofu Rolls at the Tamarind Tree so much that I was very excited so see that The Seattle Times recently featured a similar recipe of the rolls in an article and I saved it so I could make it at home. And let me tell you that they are as delicious at home as they are at the Tamarind Tree, I made a few adjustment and they are Delishhh. One just has to have little patience and time to do them, but they are a huge hit for a dinner party.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
For the dipping sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp Chinese soy sauce
1/4 cup Thai red chili sauce
1 tbsp kosher salt
Thai fish sauce, to taste
For the spring rolls
6 (4 1/2-inch-square) Chinese egg-roll wrappers
Oil for frying
2 ounces vermicelli noodles
12 large leaves green leaf lettuce, washed and spun dry
12 large sprigs fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
12 large sprigs fresh mint, washed and spun dry
36 sprigs cilantro, washed and spun dry
4 ounces finely shredded carrot
12 (6-inch round) rice-paper spring-roll wrappers
1. To make the dipping sauce. Dissolve the palm sugar in boiling water and stir in the vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce and salt. Add fish sauce, to taste. Keep the sauce at room temperature until serving time.
2. To make the rolls. Cut each of the egg-roll wrappers into 4 long strips. Working with one strip at a time, roll the strips lengthwise into cigarette shapes, sealing the cylinders by brushing the edge of each wrapper with a little water. In a frying pan with about an inch of oil, fry the cylinders, two or three at a time, until they become crisp and golden brown. Drain the fried wrappers on paper towels and hold them at room temperature until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.
3. Cut the tofu in strips and fry it in a pan until golden. Set aside for assemble.
4. Pour hot tap water over the vermicelli noodles just enough to cover them, about 2 cups. When the noodles are clear and pliable, after about 15 minutes, drain them and keep them refrigerated until serving time. Split the lettuce leaves in half lengthwise. Keep the herbs, the lettuce and the carrots cold in separate containers until just before serving time.
5. When you are ready to serve the rolls, have a shallow dish or pie pan filled with hot tap water (about 110 degrees). Soak the spring-roll wrappers, one at a time, in the hot water just until barely soft and pliable, about 30 seconds. Lay a soaked wrapper on a clean work surface and place two pieces of green leaf lettuce end to end in the center of the wrapper with the curly ends hanging out over the edge. Lay a small bundle of the noodles and a few shredded carrots on top of the lettuce. Add a strip of tofu. Strip the leaves from a sprig of basil and sprig of mint and cilantro and put the leaves on top of the noodles and carrots. Place two of the fried egg-roll wrappers on top of the pile and roll the spring roll wrapper around the pile, tightening everything into a neat bundle as you roll.
6. Cut the roll in half. Place the two halves, cut side down on a chilled salad plate. The ends of the lettuce leaves and the fried egg roll wrappers will poke out above the edges of the wrapper. Serve the rolls at once with a small dish of dipping sauce on the plate.