Spring Rolls

Spring Rolls

1 pound cooked shrimp, prawns, lobster, or crab meat
Cellophane noodles (bean thread noodles)*
1 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
Red or Boston lettuce leaves, leaves separated, rinsed and dried (tough ribs discarded)
Fresh mint leaves, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
Fresh basil leaves, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
Coarsely shredded carrot
Spring Roll Wrappers (rice paper rounds), 8 1/2-inches in diameter**

  • Bean thread noodles are the thin clear noodles made from ground mung beans or (the cheaper version) mung bean flour. Also known as transparent noodles. Because of their appearance, they are also called transparent or cellophane noodles. Look for bean thread noodles in the ethnic or pasta section of natural food stores, or in specialty or Asian markets. Store them, unopened, in a cool, dry cupboard for six to eight months.

Spring Roll Wrappers or Rice Paper Wrapper can be found near the fried noodles in Asian markets. They will keep in your cupboard indefinitely. As they are fragile, keep them flat and handle them gently.

If using shrimp or prawns, sliced them in half lengthwise.

Cover noodles with boiling water and let soak 15 minutes; drain well in a sieve or colander. Pat dry between paper towels and toss with rice vinegar. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Fill a pie plate or bowl with lukewarm water. Immerse rice paper in warm water for a few seconds to soften them up just until soft but still flexible (work with one rice paper at a time, being gentle as they break easily when brittle). Remove from water and place rice paper on a kitchen towel and let rest approximately 30 seconds until it’s more pliable.

Arrange one piece of lettuce on bottom half of soaked rice paper, folding or tearing to fit and leaving a 1-inch border along edge. Top with some of the seafood, noodles, mint, basil, cilantro, and carrot (don’t overfill). Make sure the ingredients are not clumped together in the center, but evenly distributed from one end to the other.

Pressing down on the filling with your fingers (pressing down on the ingredients is particularly important because it tightens the roll), fold the bottom end of the sheet (side nearest you) over the top of the fillings and roll into a cylindrical shape halfway. Fold the left and right sides inward and complete rolling the remaining half (If rice paper is too dry to seal, moisten unsealed edges with a little more hot water). Transfer summer roll to a plate, seam-side down, and cover with dampened paper towels. Make additional roll in the same manner.

NOTE: Spring rolls can be made a day ahead. Cover them with a damp paper towel, then wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Refrigerating firms and toughens the wrappers and noodles slightly (if they are a little dry, wipe them gently with a damp cloth).

Bring rolls to room temperature before halving and serving. To serve, halve rolls on the diagonal and place the rolls upright on your serving platter. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

For an appetizer, serve one or two halves per person. As a main course, serve at least six halves per person.

DIPPING SAUCE IDEAS:

Hoisin-Chili Sauce:
3/4 cup prepared hoisin sauce
1/4 cup minced onion
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 to 3 teaspoons Asian Red Chili Paste
2 tablespoons minced salted roasted peanuts

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Hoisin sauce, onion, rice vinegar, and water; heat and stir approximately 3 minutes until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in chili paste. Let sauce cool at least 30 minutes. Just before serving, stir in peanuts.

Curried Mayonnaise Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon water
2 teaspoon curry paste (or to taste)

In a bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, water, and curry paste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Garlic-Lime Sauce:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup hot water
1 red serranto chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce

In a medium bowl, combine sugar and hot water; stir to dissolve the sugar. Whisk in chile pepper, garlic, lime juice, and fish sauce. Serve at room temperature.

Strawberry Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon strawberry preserves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, strawberry preserves, ginger, and red pepper. Serve at room temperature.

Spicy Peanut Sauce:
Bunch fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons hot chili sauce
1 tablespoons rice vinegar

In a food processor or blender, place the cilantro leaves, peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, chili sauce, and rice vinegar. Process until smooth. Serve at room temperature.

Lemon Vinaigrette Sauce:
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
Juice of one orange
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, rice vinegar, and ginger. Allow mixture to sit fifteen minutes; strain out the ginger and any citrus seeds. Add the shallots and slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.