We all know that crispy, deep-fried spring rolls are amazing (as demonstrated recently by a good blogger friend). Sort of like eggrolls but more bite sized. But have you tried fresh spring rolls? They are served cold and present the refreshing flavours of-mint, cilantro, and cucumber. The cucumber, rice vermicelli and grated carrot provide addictive texture. And, you know, they are not that hard to make!
A good online recipe is found here. Let me take you through it.
To make 12 - 15 rolls, you will need:
1 pkg rice paper wrappers (there will be some left over)
1 pkg rice vermicelli, prepared as per package instructions
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
2-3 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
For the marinade:
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp fermented fish sauce
2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
Combine the marinade ingredients. Give 2 tbsp to the noodles, 1 tbsp to the carrots+peanuts (mix them together), and 1 tbsp to the cucumber matchsticks. For anyone who crinkles their nose at the works "fermented fish", just let me say that fish sauce is the magical ingredient that adds that je ne sais quoi to so many delicious asian recipes. So give it a shot! It's like an extra flavourful soy sauce.
Now you're ready for the assembly! I recommend having a fabulous assistant or two. There is an illustrated montage at the bottom of these instructions.
1. Prepare your work area: one station should have a pie plate or shallow pan containing 1-2 inches of lukewarm water for soaking the rice paper, the other should have a clean, damp tea towel to blot the paper and do the assembly.
2. Soak the rice paper in a few inches of lukewarm water for about 1 minute, or until the paper loses its stiffness and becomes slightly sticky.
3. Blot the rice paper dry by laying it on the damp towel, folding the towel edges over the paper and lightly pressing to remove excess water.
4. Add the fillings: 4-5 pieces of cuke, a spoonful of carrot+peanut mixture, a sprinkle of fresh herbs, and a glob of noodes (you will get a feeling for the appropriate amount of noodles as you make a few rolls).
5. Now when it comes to positioning the fillings on the rice paper, I didn't think I could describe it properly so here is my feeble attempt at illustrating it for you:
[soaking rice paper - rice paper ready to blot - adding filling - cooked vermicelli - making bottom flap - folding left side - folding right side - rolling it up - complete]