Fresh Spring Rolls

A fun, healthy recipe the whole family can make together with fresh, local ingredients. Let your little ones choose their own vegetables and get their hands dirty crafting rolls.

Fresh spring rolls, also known as gỏi cuốn, nem cuốn, summer rolls, or rice paper rolls, are a variation of spring rolls popular in Vietnamese cuisine. Filled with seasonal vegetables and pre-cooked meat, the rolls are considered to be served raw, or “un-fried,” and are eaten at room temperature alongside a dipping sauce. The official ingredients used vary largely depending on region and diet, but can easily be made into a vegetarian or vegan-friendly dish and are a perfect way to celebrate the warmer weather and fresh produce that comes with spring. While it’s 7,160 miles from Seattle to Pleiku, Vietnam, these rolls are easy enough to make in your own kitchen. All you’ll need is a few ingredients, patience and a sense of adventure, and you’ll be bringing a small but delicious part of Vietnam right to your door.

Fresh Spring Rolls

Makes 8 Rolls

Ingredients

  • 8 sheets of rice paper
  • 12 cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 6 ounces fried tofu, sliced into thin squares
  • 2 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
  • 8 green lettuce leaves, ribs removed
  • 1/2 cup of sliced red cabbage
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 4 ounces Thai basil
  • 4 ounces mint (optional)
  • Chives (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1-4 tablespoons water, as needed
  • Crushed peanuts, optional

Preparation

  1. Prepare the vegetables as directed. Slice each shrimp in half along the spine. This will help them lay flat inside the rolls. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the vermicelli noodles according to package directions. When finished, drain the water and rinse the noodles in cold water to stop any further cooking. Set them aside and warm up four cups of water in the pot to help rehydrate the rice paper. Note: You will be dipping the rice paper into this water with your hands so the water should be warm to touch but not hot. If it gets too hot, wait for it to cool down or add cold water to reduce the heat. When it’s reached lukewarm temperature, pour it into a shallow pan. Then, begin assembly.
  2. Start by dipping the rice paper into the water for about 15-20 seconds, or until it becomes soft and pliable. Lay the rice paper flat onto a clean cutting board. In the first half of the circle closest to your body, lay down a piece of lettuce, making sure to leave a one inch margin on either side of the paper. If the lettuce is long, it may need to be ripped to provide this margin. Then, layer a small amount of noodles on top of the lettuce followed by a few strips of cabbage, carrots and cucumber. One of the most celebrated things about spring rolls is their herby flavor, so be sure to use a few ripped leaves of at least one—if not more—herb in each. Then, near the middle of the roll, place three shrimp halves along the rice paper with the pink, cooked side against the wrapper to create the signature look. Add a few pieces of tofu on top of the shrimp. Then, begin rolling everything together.
  3. Much like you would roll a burrito, lift the part of the rice paper closest to you and bring it up and over the vegetable fillings. Then, bring the sides up and tuck them into the top. If you are using chives, which is considered traditional in Vietnamese cooking, add one or two of them now after this initial roll so that part of the chive sticks out of one end after rolling is complete. Then, continue rolling the paper over the shrimp, pausing as needed to tuck in the sides to keep everything contained. If a small tear does occur, it will likely be hidden or not noticeable after the rolling is complete, so don’t worry. Repeat directions with remaining ingredients.
  4. To make the peanut butter dipping sauce: In a small saucepan, heat up the olive oil on low-medium heat. Then, add in the garlic and sauté for about a minute. Next, add in the peanut butter and hoisin sauce. Use a whisk to stir everything together and then turn off the heat. The sauce will look dark brown (almost like molasses). Add one tablespoon of cold water at a time to thin the mixture. As more water is added, the sauce will turn lighter brown in color. When it’s reached a desired consistency, transfer it to a bowl and top with crushed peanuts.

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