Here in the Pacific Northwest, it is still rather cool and wet, unlike most of the country. But, it’s warm enough that I feel the need to increase our fresh vegetable intake. Instead of the usual deep fried spring rolls or sometimes called egg rolls in the US, in Asian cuisine there are fresh spring rolls that are not deep fried. These fresh or raw rolls, found in both Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, are salads wrapped in a thin rice skin. The first time I had this wonderfully refreshing roll was about 30 years ago in Tokyo at a Vietnamese restaurant. At the time, I never knew that spring rolls didn’t have to be deep fried! Today, they are more readily available.
My girlfriend and I made these together. I know the photo of my rolls show that my wrapping skills have a long way to go! But they did taste good. I think my problem was that I didn’t wrap them tight enough because I was afraid of the wrapper tearing. This all takes practice. I’m sure you all can make better looking ones than mine. 🙂
The main part of the ingredients is to purchase the wrappers. There are a variety of companies that make these but here is a photo of the one we bought. If you look at each sheet, you will notice a pattern that looks like an embossed weave. I believe this is what gives it a bit of tensile strength, so don’t be afraid to stretch it if necessary.
Here is my version.
Fresh Spring Roll Recipe
- Fresh roll wrappers
- rice sticks
- mint leaves
- Thai basil leaves
- 1/2 lb. raw prawns
- 1 carrot julienne
- 3-4 spring onions
- mixed lettuce leaves
- prepare ingredients to go inside the spring rolls.
- In a pot of boiling water, place about 2 oz. of rice sticks and cook for a few minutes until soft. Drain and run under cold water. Again drain well. Using kitchen shears, cut into 3-4 inch strips.
- In a separate pot, boil cleaned prawns and slice in half.
- Cut spring onions into 3-4 inch strips.
- cut carrots into julienne strips
- wash and separate mint and basil leaves.
- now you are ready to assemble.
Prepare work area.
- You will need a lay a dry tea towel on the counter, to place the wet wrapper.
- Pour boiling water in a flat pan, a 9″ X 11″ cake pan works well. Because the pan is shallow, the water will cool quite quickly.
- place one wrapper in the water until the sheet becomes soft. Place it directly on the towel. This helps absorb the extra moisture.
- First place the prawns with the curved side down, then add the herbs, noodles, spring onions, carrots and salad leaves.
- To wrap, fold the bottom, then fold one side and roll. The wrapper will automatically stick together. Be sure to pull tight so it doesn’t fall apart.
- Dips: Traditionally, there are peanut dips, and fish sauce dips, but in our family sometimes I don’t have the time to make a home made dip. In such cases, we use Japanese Ponzu or the Thai Sweet Chili Sauce. You can even enjoy it with your favorite dressing, after all it’s just a wrapped salad!
Now the great part is that once you learn how to use the wrappers, go ahead and wrap all types of fresh vegetables. Use whatever you have on hand. Also, don’t be afraid to add chicken, or salami or deep fried tofu for vegetarian. I once made these with deep fried onions for my vegetarian girlfriend and she really enjoyed them. Be innovative. What would you put in them?