I find myself ordering spring rolls every chance I get, thus the accumulation of spring roll photos here. They all look the same, but they all taste different. A slight change of ingredients really makes a difference. For instance, I left out the basil once and at first bite I knew something was missing. I think that’s what makes this a very versatile and wonderful appetizer, lunch, or light dinner.
It’s pretty simple to make. All you need is a little practice, some instructions, and a trusty knife to julienne all the veggies.
What I love most about it is the crunch that comes with each bite of the fresh vegetables—a far cry from the crunch from frying. Yes, we all love our lumpiang Shanghai, but this, I simply cannot get enough of, and it’s healthier, too. I add a lot of crunch, like carrots and cucumbers, and a lot of tasty herbs like mint, cilantro, and basil. For protein, I usually add shrimps or chicken.
The toughest part is to master working with rice papers. The trick, which I’ve learned after many failed rolls, is to use warm water (not hot) and hydrate the rice paper long enough to soften it slightly. (They’re crisp straight out of the package.) Do not wait for it to become too soft, or it will be difficult to roll. I also learned, (as you’ll see in the video) not to use a wooden board to lay down the rice paper on. Duh, it sticks. So, just dip it briefly in the water and lay it down on a non-stick surface to roll it. I just use a plate or a plastic cutting board.
Another trick is to avoid over-stuffing it. Rice paper is very delicate to work with, so be careful not to tear it. Roll the sides to tuck in the ingredients and roll it tightly, like a burrito. Don’t be disheartened if your first try fails. Practice makes perfect. I’ve had enough practice—one time I made 200 rolls for my Tito’s birthday!
The ingredients listed below are what I typically use, but you may substitute them with whatever you please. I’ve seen an interesting Korean version where they replaced the usual ingredients with slices of beef, kimchi, and Samyang noodles! It’s so versatile you cannot go wrong with it. Dip them in peanut sauce, or sweet chili…so good! Need I say more? Try it!
- 10 spring roll rice paper wrappers
- 1 carrot, peeled and julienned
- 1 Japanese cucumber, julienned
- 1 pack of vermicelli noodles
- fresh herbs: mint, cilantro, basil leaves
- 5 lettuce leaves
- 10 large shrimps, deveined and sliced in half
Peanut dipping sauce
- 3 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbps hoisin sauce
- dash of soy sauce
- warm water to thin the sauce out
- 1 clove minced garlic
Sweet chili dipping sauce
- 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- chopped cilantro
- Make sure every ingredient is chopped, sliced, cooked before assembling the roll
- Pour warm water in a bowl and dip the rice paper wrapper until soft and pliable
- Fill the rolls in this order: lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, noodles, herbs, shrimps
- Roll them up tightly. Gently pull up the bottom of the roll and roll over the filling. Then, roll and use your hands to tuck the filling in as you go
- Serve immediately or store in a sealed container if you want to save it for later. (I do not recommend serving later as it might dry up the rice paper)