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Anatomy of a Fresh Spring Roll

Posted May 22 2009 11:44pm

There's something about the texture of a fresh spring roll that I really enjoy. Or perhaps, it's the contrast of textures that I find so appealing. The chewiness of the rice paper, the crunchiness of the carrot and the hearty bite of, in this case, kale. Fresh spring rolls can be quite simple if you want them to be, or they can be exotic with bits of fresh ginger, red pepper flakes and fresh mint leaves. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Often they're filled with thin rice noodles, too.

Lucky for me, I like them filled with pretty much anything. This post is more about the technique of wrapping and filling a fresh roll, then about what should go inside. Though, I should mention that I am a big fan of kale with some julianned carrots, zucchini, fresh ginger and a few splashes of gf soy sauce, rice vinegar and agave inside of my roll. Avocados also make a nice, creamy addition.

I live about 800 yards away from a very large Asian market with incredibly inexpensive groceries. I can find young coconuts, rice paper, tapioca starch and rice flour for less than half the price of what I pay at my local health food store. It's a gluten-free paradise. I also have choices, I can buy round rice paper, or square. I prefer to work with the square pieces as I find there's less of a chance for the filling to sneak out.

Making rice paper pliable is quite simple. I filled a large pan of mine with water (only about 2 inches) and put over the stove on medium-low heat. Once the water was warm I simply place the rice paper in and let sit for ten seconds. Once that is done, remove and the rice paper is ready to be worked with.

You'll want to prepare your filling before you do this because the rice paper can cool quickly (within a minute or two) and become too sticky to roll.

Once you have your rice paper lying flat, place your filling mixture on the lower-third of the rice paper. Make sure to leave room (about an inch or two) on both sides of the mixture.

Next, start "rolling" the rice paper, just until the mixture is covered.

Then, fold in the "extra" paper that you left on the sides.

Once you have done that, continue rolling tightly until you have your roll.

If you are making a whole batch, be sure to place a damp paper towel over the plate of rolls so they don't get dry. They can stay like this for a few hours. They go really well with sweet chili sauce, I used Thai Kitchen Sweet Chili Sauce, which says gluten-free on the label. Hey That Taste's Good also has a simple recipe for the sauce (and spring roll post!) on her website. Yum.

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