Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fresh Spring Rolls

Ever since summer started this year, there's one food that I can't seem to get enough of. One of my first days in Perth I had some take away Vietnamese spring rolls and I have been hooked ever since. I don't feel right calling the ones that I make "Vietnamese" since I'm sure anyone who knows how to make these in an authentic way would just shake their head at me. Nonetheless, I love my version of spring rolls and it's so much easier to make than I expected.

Before trying to make these I was convinced I would have no luck using such a thin rice paper, but it proved to be much easier. The rolling method I use is sort of like a tight delicate version of how burritos get rolled up. If anyone know of an easier way, feel free to let me know. I made these with jasmine rice, but they would be even better made with rice vermicelli (which are not currently in stock in my kitchen). Also, you could easily adjust the fillings to suit your palette. If you don't have prawns, these are also delicious just full of veggies, with tofu, or with chicken. Have fun with these. The more you experiment with the flavor, the better they tend to turn out.

Makes 4 spring rolls
Prep time: 15 minutes

4 rice wrappers
water for softening rice paper
1/3 cup warm cooked rice or rice vermicelli
1 carrot, cut into matchsticks (or just coarsely grated)
2 Lebanese cucumbers, cut into matchsticks (English cucumbers can be used too)
3 large leaves of romaine lettuce
1/2 scallion, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (I love cilantro, but if you don't feel free to change the herb ratios)
16 mint leaves
16 basil leaves
4 large prawns/shrimp, cut in half lengthwise

Dipping Sauce:
2 parts sweet chili sauce
1 part peanut sauce

To soften rice paper, I find it easiest to partly fill a cookie sheet that has tall walls with hot water. I usually use the hottest water my hands can handle. The rice paper takes a couple of seconds to fully soften, you'll know its ready when it changes shape easily and is flexible. Make sure you're getting water on top of the rice paper, otherwise the corners will curl up and not touch the water.

Place softened rice paper on a flat surface with the smooth side facing up. Start loading in you fillings in the middle section of the rice paper. I put the rice down first, but for a prettier appearance and when using vermicelli, put the prawns down first. Next I add the carrots, cucumber and lettuce. Top this with the herbs and scallion and lay the prawns on top of everything. When everything is in the middle, fold as you would a burrito. If you are struggling with the folding/rolling part, I just found this and it will explain the process much better than I can. Mix sweet chili sauce and peanut sauce together. Dip. Enjoy.

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