Spring rolls are a nice appetizer when you go out to eat at a fancy-pants restaurant, and they’re just as nice when you eat them at home, and they’re easy to make. Briefly wetting the rice paper and placing it on a damp towel makes the delicate rice paper easier to handle. The rice paper softens while you place your filling–makes the process much easier–definitely give this technique a try!
All you need to make spring rolls are rice paper and some tasty ingredients to roll up inside. You can buy rice paper at any Asian food store, most health food markets, and in the ethnic foods section of many local grocery stores. It’s an economical buy. The last batch I bought was a package of 20 for $2.25 U.S. dollars. It comes in sheets, like paper, but usually round in shape; it doesn’t feel like paper, though—it feels more like plastic, almost like something you’d find at the hardware store, but don’t let that put you off, it softens quickly when wet. Despite its initial “plasticky” appearance, it’s not bad for you, or particularly good for you either—rice, tapioca, salt, and water are the prime components. How your spring rolls taste will be determined by the ingredients you roll up inside, and any dipping sauce you might like to serve them with. It’s a great vehicle for getting raw vegetables into your diet; I like to think of a spring roll as a cigar-shaped salad, but many pre-cooked meats and seafood work well in spring rolls, too.
What You Need to make Spring Rolls
Rice Paper and
Whatever the hell you wanna roll up in the rice paper.
Here are a few options I like to use:
cilantro (I ALWAYS USE CILANTRO), cucumber, basil leaves, lettuce, carrots, sprouts, rice noodles, steamed shrimp, stir-fried spicy pork, bell pepper, green onions, cabbage, and on and on and on…
there’s no end to what you can use.
How to Make a Fresh Spring Roll
Prepare your filling ingredients—mainly making sure the ingredients are chopped or sliced in a manner which will make them rice paper-wrapping friendly—this is especially true if you plan on slicing the spring rolls in half—your filling ingredients will tumble out easily if they’re too loose and tiny.
Wet the rice paper with warm tap water. Just a few seconds under a warm tap is plenty. Place the rice paper on a damp towel and gently press down. The rice paper will quickly soften and become pliable. Arrange your filling ingredients at one end of the sheet and roll them up in the rice paper like a burrito. Using basil or lettuce or cabbage leaves as your base ingredient will make the rolls structurally sound and easier to roll. It’s very important that the first rollover be tight—compact the ingredients as much as possible—a loosely rolled spring roll is a sad sight, and will quickly fall apart if sliced. The rice paper will be your friend. It will help. It is very sticky and will seal almost like an envelope around your stuffings. If you want a tasty spring roll, it’s as easy as rolling up a tasty combo of ingredients—a yummy dipping sauce will help, and here are two:
Peanut Dipping Sauce:
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
Chili Dipping Sauce:
2 Tbsp Chili-Garlic sauce
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Seeds
And just plain old soy sauce works fine, too. Or maybe some hot mustard—I’ve never tried that, but it just popped into my head, so maybe next time I’ll give it a go.
Alright, that’s enough blabbing.
Give these spring rolls a try and bon appétit!
For another delicious Asian inspired dish, try a Seafood Pancake Recipe.