Vietnamese fresh spring rolls

These are some of my favorite appetizers to pair with heavier asian dishes like Thai curries. The beauty of this recipe is that you can put anything inside of these spring rolls and they will still turn out delicious – just make sure you have a nice balance of textures (crunchy, soft) and flavors (herbs, sweet).

Ingredients

For the rolls

  • 2 oz rice vermicelli or bean thread noodles
  • 1 cup romaine or butter lettuce leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and cut into 2″ batons
  • handful of peeled and cooked shrimp
  • 1/4 c cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 c thai basil, roughly chopped
  • 8 sheets rice paper (spring roll wrappers)
  • optional other ingredients: mango, red pepper, red cabbage, green onions, jalapeno

For the dipping sauce

  • 1/4 c creamy peanut butter
  • 1 T hoisin sauce
  • 2 t soy sauce
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 t Sriracha sauce
  • 1-2 T warm water, as needed

Instructions

  1. Heat a medium pot of water to a boil, then cook the noodles according to the package instructions. (Note: usually the noodles will cook if you pour boiling water over them and let them stand until they are softened.)
  2. Combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce, and whisk until creamy and smooth. (Note: you can heat the sauce up a bit in the microwave to get it to blend together more easily.)
  3. Pour a few fingers of warm water into a large baking tray. The tray should be big enough that you can easily fit the rice paper in for it to soften.
  4. Learn the basics of wrapping. There are lots of videos on the internet showing techniques, but you can check this one out for a start.
  5. To prepare each spring roll, dip one piece of paper into the water, and let it soak for a few seconds.
  6. Without drying or wiping the excess water away, place the rice paper onto a plate and prepare to fill it! (Note: don’t worry if the rice paper seems too firm. It will soften as it absorbs more water, and will remain strong enough to wrap without tearing.)
  7. Place 1-2 pieces of lettuce along the bottom 1/3 of the circular wrapper. (Note: the width of your filling will determine the width of the spring roll, so remember to leave some space on the sides of the filling for wrapping purposes.)
  8. Add the remaining ingredients on top of the lettuce. The exact order doesn’t matter much, just make sure to leave the top 1/3 of the wrapper open for wrapping. (Note: try not to add too much filling, as this will make the rolls harder to wrap. It’s always easier to start with less filling and gradually add more.)
  9. To roll the filling, gently pull the bottom of the wrapper up and over the lower portion of the filling (along the X axis). Try to keep the fillings compact as you roll upwards.
  10. Then pull each side over to enclose the filling (along the Y axis).
  11. Once three sides are folded, continue rolling/wrapping upward until the roll is fully wrapped. (Note: you want to try to make this part of the roll as compact as possible, kind of like you are making a burrito.)
  12. When you are ready to serve, put the spring rolls on a platter and serve alongside dipping sauce. These are best eaten the day of and at room temperature (they do not turn out well when left in the fridge).

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