Rania Harris stopped by Pittsburgh Today live Wednesday to show off some great small plates recipes with an Asian twist!

Vegetable Summer Rolls with Chile-Lime Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 small red chile, minced
  • 4 ounces rice vermicelli
  • Twelve 5-inch round rice paper wrappers, plus extra in case of breakage
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into 24 strips
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, cut into 24 strips
  • ½ Hass avocado, cut into 12 strips
  • Half of a 4-inch length of seedless cucumber, peeled and cut into 12 strips
  • 2 cups alfalfa sprouts (1 ounce)
  • 6 large basil leaves, thinly sliced


In a small bowl, combine the fish sauce with the lime juice, sugar, water and chile, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Stir in the vermicelli and cook until al dente, about 1 minute; drain and transfer to a bowl and let cool, tossing occasionally.

Fill a shallow bowl with water. Working with 2 rice papers at a time, dip the papers in the water, shake off any excess, transfer to a work surface and let stand until softened, 30 seconds. Place a small handful of the vermicelli on the lower third of each rice paper. Top with two strips each of the red and yellow bell peppers, one strip each of avocado and cucumber and a big pinch of alfalfa sprouts. Garnish with a few strips of basil. Press to flatten the ingredients, then roll them up in the rice papers, folding in the sides as you go. Press to seal. Repeat with the remaining rice papers and fillings. When all the rolls are made, cut them in half on the diagonal and serve with the dipping sauce.

Serves: 6

Thai Beef Skewers With Pickled Cucumbers

For the pickled cucumbers:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • ½ Asian cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small hot red or green chile, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves

For the beef skewers:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar (unseasoned)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons mirin
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes or Thai chili paste
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 pound filet tips, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 scallions (white and light green parts), cut into 1-inch lengths, plus additional, sliced for garnish


Pickle the cucumbers:
In a small saucepan, heat the sugar, salt, vinegar and ¼ cup water over medium-high heat until the sugar and salt dissolve; remove from the heat. Put the cucumber, chile and red onion in a medium bowl and pour the hot brine over them. Let cool, then add the cilantro. Chill.

Make the beef skewers:
In a medium bowl, mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, mirin, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Pour half of the mixture into a serving bowl, add the lime juice and reserve as a dipping sauce. Put the beef cubes in a zip-top bag and pour in the remaining marinade. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat. Put in a bowl and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat a grill to high or stove top grill pan to medium-high. Drain the meat, discarding the marinade. Thread the cubes onto skewers (1 to 4 per skewer), separating each cube with a piece of scallion. Grill the skewers, turning once, until nicely charred, about 3 minutes per side.

Sprinkle with sliced scallions. Serve warm or cold with the reserved marinade for dipping and the pickled cucumber and chiles on the side.

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes to keep them from burning on the grill.

Serves: 4 to 6 as an appetizer

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