Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls were this weeks foodie project. I like to try new things to keep work in the kitchen interesting, and I’d never attempted spring rolls until now. There are a large variety of appetizers referred to as spring rolls. Wrappers differ as do fillings and cooking techniques. The spring rolls I made were filled with raw vegetables, a little mango, rice noodles, and herbs. They were wrapped in rice paper, and were not cooked. They were served at room temperature with dipping sauce. Ingredients and preparation vary from one Asian culture to another. After a little research, the preparation I used seems to me to most closely resemble Vietnamese salad rolls known as goi cuon. They can also be made to include cooked pork or shrimp. While these are not difficult at all to make the preparation is a bit fussy and tedious. All of the veggies need to be match sticked and that takes patience and a good sharp knife. Apparently you can buy the vegetables already prepared, but where is the fun in that?? You can easily personalize these and fill with ingredients of your choosing. This is what I used.

Vegetables:

Baby butter lettuce

Red cabbage

English cucumber

Carrot

Sweet red pepper

And a mango

Rice Noodles

I used 2 to 3 oz of Bifun. Most of the recipes I found called for rice vermicelli, but this is what I had. Prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package. Once they are cooked shock them in ice water to stop the cooking, drain, and return to the pan. Toss with one or two tsp of toasted sesame oil and set aside.

Herbs

1/4 cup finely sliced green onion

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup thai basil

1/4 cup mint

Tear or chop all of the herbs, combine, and set aside.

Once all of your preparation is done, set up what I referred to as my rolling station. You want all of your ingredients in one place and within reach.

Fill a pie pan with about an inch of room temperature water. Put a wooden cutting board next to the pie pan. Put one piece of rice paper in the water for 10-20 seconds and remove to your cutting board.

On the bottom third of the moisten wrapper, leaving about a one inch boarder, start piling on your veggies. I started with the baby butter lettuce, then the cucumber, carrots, peppers, cabbage, and mango. Next I added the rice noodles and finished it off with the herbs. Then you want to fold the bottom up over the filling, fold the sides in, and continue rolling like you would a burrito. Try to roll them tight. I set them on a parchment lined sheet pan. Once you get the hang of it this part goes quickly.

Now you can prepare your dipping sauce.

Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added)

2 T rice vinegar

2 T tamari (or soy sauce)

2 T honey

1 T toasted sesame oil

2 cloves of garlic grated

2-3 T water

Soy Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 T honey

2 T rice vinegar

2 T water

1 T toasted sesame oil

2 cloves of garlic grated

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Bring all of the ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour into a bowl and cool. (I made a double batch of this sauce.)

Plate and enjoy.

NOTE: Zucchini or yellow squash, dykon radish, or other peppers would be delicious additions. You might also want to include cooked shrimp or thinly sliced pork if you prefer to add a protein.

Information I read regarding rice paper suggests not refrigerating the rolls because the paper may become chewy. Prep can be done ahead of time but the rolls should be made the same day as you plan to serve them. Keep them covered with a barely moist towel.