Do you ever notice that you crave different kinds of foods depending on the season? I definitely do.
A lot of the year, I’m a huge fan of soups and hearty meals. There’s nothing quite like homemade chicken soup full of delicious, warming broth and some cooked root vegetables on a cool, dreary PNW day. But when its 90 degrees out, sunny, and all I want to do is be outside? Things like that don’t exactly excite my taste buds.
In the long days of summer, I’m much more into light, fresh, cooling foods. To satisfy that, I make a lot of salads using the greens growing in our garden. But even for someone who loves a good salad, sometimes they can get a little boring. Even if you try to experiment with different toppings and dressings.
So what’s one of my favorite meals when I’m feeling like a fresh, light meal but want to mix things up from the usual? Fresh spring rolls.
These are always a must-order for my family when going out to eat Thai food. And now, they are one of my favorite recipes to make at home. They are fresh, crunchy, full of veggies, and feel like a special treat - like you’ve made something gourmet. They make a great appetizer or main dish. And the best part? They are so much easier than you think.
Homemade Fresh Spring Roll Recipe
Makes: 12 rolls
12 rice paper wrappers, 8-inch
6 large lettuce leaves, ripped in half
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 large cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 avocado, cut into thin slices
1 C bean sprouts
3 oz rice vermicelli noodles
10 large mint leaves, ripped up into pieces
10 large basil leaves, ripped up into pieces
Peanut sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, or hoisin sauce (available in most grocery stores)
Prawns, cooked and cut in half lengthwise
Chicken, cooked and cut into small strips
Tofu, fried in thin strips
1. Cook vermicelli noodles according to directions. If not specified on package, a good strategy is to boil water and submerge the noodles in the water until softened. Rinse with cool water and let drain.
2. Find a frying pan or baking dish that is large enough to fit the rice paper wrappers. Fill pan with hot water (as hot as you can touch without burning).
3. Set up your rolling station. You’ll need a clean, empty plate prepared for making the rolls, and a serving platter for placing completed rolls on. Have the rest of your ingredients prepared nearby and easy to grab. Make sure the hot water dish is also within reach.
4. Dip a rice paper wrapper into the hot water, and let sit for about 10 seconds. Once the wrapper begins to soften, remove it from the water and place on clean plate.
5. Place a piece of lettuce flat in the center of the wrapper, leaving a few inches on each side empty. If you are using a protein, tuck a few pieces of it under the lettuce.
6. Place small handfuls of carrots, cucumber, and avocado in a row on top of the lettuce.
7. Place a small bunch of bean sprouts and rice vermicelli on top of the vegetables, making a mound with the ingredients. Sprinkle a few pinches of basil and mint on top.
8. As if rolling a burrito, fold the sides of the wrapper inward, then tightly roll the wrapper away from you around the filling.
9. Cut rolls in half on a diagonal, and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Homemade fresh spring rolls are a great meal to make with friends or family. Get everyone involved and rolling. And if anyone’s rolls are ripping, flopping, or otherwise not turning out so beautiful, direct them to the tips below :)
-Keep your rolling tight. The tighter you hold your ingredients as you roll your wrapper, the more solid your roll will come out. It’s a bit of a learned technique, but if you’ve ever made a burrito, you’ve already got the basics.
-Do not soak the wrappers for too long. Make sure to remove them from water as soon as they have softened slightly, but not completely.
-Keep boiling (or very hot) water nearby to keep your water warm enough to soften the wrappers.
-If you are having trouble with your wrappers ripping, try doubling up and using two rice paper wrappers per roll. Heat two at one time, and place them on top of each other before assembling your rolls.
-Experiment with different ingredients. Try adding green onions, thinly sliced peppers, cilantro, or your choice of protein.
-The rolls are best fresh, but can be prepared ahead of time, covered, and kept in the refrigerator until serving.