P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc.'s 40-plus restaurant chain, operating in 19 states, owes much of its success to founder Paul Fleming's unique idea of pairing oriental cuisine with American-style service. At the outset, when he opened the first of the restaurants in Scottsdale, Arizona, Fleming broke with the traditional Chinese restaurant format. With his collaborator, chef Philip Chiang, he devised a comparatively limited menu that featured far fewer dishes than the menus of typical, full-service, Chinese restaurants. Incorporating an American steak house dining style and a formidable selection of wines and cheeses, P.F. Chang's offers such additional oriental restaurant anomalies as espresso and cappuccino. Although P.F. Chang's China Bistros are stylish in decor, displaying motifs from the Ming and T'ang Dynasties and hand-painted murals, the dishes are moderately priced, partly because one of Fleming's aims was to provide high quality but affordable Chinese food for "the masses."




Vegetable Spring Rolls

Pei Wei Copycat Recipe

Serves 4

2 large carrots, julienned
2 -3 julienned green onions
1/2 sweet red pepper, julienned
1/3 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch sea salt
1 (3 oz) package dried bean thread noodles
16 rice paper, rounds softened (8-inch, see note)
1/8 cup slivered fresh Thai basil or 1/8 cup mint

1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil or 1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon hot sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 pinch sugar

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, green onions, cabbage, olive oil, cilantro, salt and pepper: toss well. Let marinate at room temp for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, place the noodles in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes, or until the noodles are softened. Drain well and snip into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Place about 2 tablespoons of the noodles and about 2 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture about 1 inch from the lower edge of each rice paper round. Sprinkle with basil/mint leaves. Fold the bottom edge over the filling; fold in both sides and roll up tightly. Press to seal. Place on a plate seam side down; cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 10 minutes (you may also make these ahead of time and refrigerate for several hours).

Two quick sauces (or use hoisin, hot mustard, etc): In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and sesame oil. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, peanut oil, hot sesame oil, garlic and sugar. Serve as a dipping sauce with the spring rolls.

NOTE: To soften the rice-paper rounds before rolling them, fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip each rice-paper round into the water for 10 seconds, or until softened and translucent  Remove and let drain on a clean dish towel. Do not stack the rice papers; they will stick together.

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