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Thai-Oh-My! Part 3: Fresh Spring Rolls

Posted Jun 07 2012 4:30am

Hey there!

It’s been a little while since I did a post about the Thai cooking adventures that took place at my house last month, and today I’ve got part 3 of my little series for you. If you need to catch up, the previous posts are here:

Today’s recipe is actually the first one that I tackled on my list of Thai favourites, mainly because I thought it’d probably be the easiest. While my stomach doesn’t handle fried spring rolls (or fried anything for that matter) very well, I do love fresh spring rolls, which are essentially the same as the former, minus the frying. They’re also a heck of a lot healthier for you, and just as tasty. :)

So, just how does one go about putting together a fresh spring roll? I always like to do a little research before diving into new cooking endeavours, so I educated myself by browsing around a few blogs. It seems the consensus is that doing a nice, tight job of the rolling up is the key to success. This was also the case when I made sushi , a skill I plan to keep practicing. If you ask me, working with rice wraps is much easier than nori sheets and sticky rice!

You can use any combination of ingredients you want inside these rolls, which makes them a great appetizer for vegans, vegetarians, and meat eaters. On this occasion, I went with the following:

Some fresh spring rolls contain seasoned rice noodles, but since I didn’t have any on hand, I substituted with some tofu shirataki noodles instead. After rinsing them really well, I seasoned them with some lime juice, fish sauce, a bit of rice vinegar, and a pinch of sugar. I also washed up some green leaf lettuce to line the inside of my wraps.

After chopping up all the veggies, the first step in the process is to soak the rice wraps in warm water until they become soft. Mine seemed to get really sticky after they began to absorb water, so in order to prevent any tears, I did my soaking in a very wide, shallow, bowl of water. When it comes to putting goodies inside, Leela of advises that if you keep the fillings between a couple of imaginary lines on the dampened roll.  I’ve included some nice little arrows for all of you math-y types.

Next, I began to layer the veggies and shirataki noodles on top of each other, beginning with the lettuce on the bottom.

Then the carrots and spring onions….

… and finally the bell pepper bits, topped with cilantro, minced chillies, and fresh Thai basil.

Next I gently pulled up the sides of the rice paper from the plate (you’ll need to be careful here not to tear them, but they’re fairly strong so it’s not too difficult), folded them over the fillings, then started rolling the end nearest me towards the furthest edge.

I sealed the edge by placing it under the roll on a separate plate along with the others.

Note that if you’re planning to make a large quantity, it’s helpful to cover the already-made rolls with a damp paper towel or cloth to prevent them from sticking to each other or drying out. When you’re all done, you’ll have a lovely plate of appetizers that can be served with any dipping sauce your heart desires. I like sweet chili sauce, but a peanut satay one would be tasty too!

All in all, this little experiment was a great success! It took me a while to make my first batch since I was trying to be super careful and take photos along the way, but when I made another round the next day for a group of friends, it only took about 15 minutes.

I also learned a few other things about spring rolls…

  • The wrappers can come in two forms – rice (which is more Vietnamese-inspired) and wheat (which is more Chinese inspired)
  • If you’re making fried ones, don’t let the rolls get too soggy. They’ll burst in the fryer.
  • You can freeze the spring rolls and fry them later. Fry them in their frozen form – don’t defrost.
  • They keep surprisingly well in the fridge. I wrapped a couple up in damp paper towels and they were just as moist the next day as when I made them.

If you’d like to view full instructions, print, or share the recipe, you can find it here . I came up with my ingredients based on the veggies in my fridge, but feel free to add things like avocado, shrimp, tofu, mango, mushrooms, etc. The possibilities are endless! (And if you’re in the mood for chicken, check out my Veggie Wraps with Peanut Hummus Dipping Sauce , which uses collard greens rather than rice wraps.)

So tell me…

  • Have you ever tried making fresh or fried spring rolls? How did they turn out?
  • What’s your favourite dipping sauce? (Not just for Thai food, but in general.) I think mine would have to be salsa, and as of recently, this one in particular!
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