For the majority of this year, longtime partner Silk (purveyor of a variety of plant milks) has challenged me to share projects on my personal bucket list with you. I so appreciate their excitement about eating well and their commitment to the well-being of the planet. This partnership has motivated me to knock off a series of things on my list, both lifestyle related and recipes I’ve long wanted to make. Now if they’d only challenge me to clean my house and weed my yard…..
Do you ever find yourself buying a food because you are in a rush or don’t want to take the time to make it yourself? And you do it so often your internal dialog begins to question why you don’t take the time to see if you couldn’t make it just as well yourself? One of those things for me is Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Made with rice paper wrappers they are naturally gluten-free so something I look forward to eating. I especially like the vegetable only versions as it is a great way for me to get more vegetables into my daily diet and not break the calorie bank.
The prospect of making my own Vietnamese spring rolls was daunting. I was sure it must be too difficult and one of those undertakings that become frustrating in the end. I’m delighted to share it’s not hard though there are a few tricks to making it go smoothly that I’ll happily share with you today. The rolling aspect improves with time. As with many things it takes practice to achieve the snug end result though once familiar with the feel of the rice wrappers, how much filling to use and how to keep the spring roll tight when rolling they will come out looking identical. The practice rolls however will be just as delicious to eat!
Another thing I love about making my own Vietnamese Spring Rolls is choosing the filling myself. I personally love a variety of colors which I feel makes food more appetizing. Texture is also important. I love to have something crunchy, and a bit sweet and especially love the creamy texture of avocado in the spring rolls. I believe the added (good) fat from the avocado helps to add flavor and a feeling of being sated when eating the rolls. Sweet chili sauce is my absolute favorite dipping sauce and it is readily available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores.
There are many methods for wetting the rice wrappers and I have found through experimenting that dipping one wrapper at a time, in a pan of warm water, just enough to fully immerse it and then placing it directly on a plastic cutting board worked best for me. While the wrapper sits on the cutting board it continues to soften and once you’ve assembled the filling for that spring roll it will be the perfect texture to roll; not too stiff and not overly softened which could allow it could rip. The key to the plastic cutting board is it does not absorb any water on the dipped wrapper allowing the water to continue to sink into the wrapper. Working with moistened fingers also helps the pliability of the assembly. The illustration photos are on a wooden cutting board to make the steps easier to see however all the rolls I made were on a plastic cutting board which won’t absorb any of the moisture on the water-dipped wrapper.
My last tip is to not over fill a wrapper. Though the filling amount, a few pieces of different vegetables, may seem slim, once you begin to roll the spring roll you’ll see it makes the right size to roll well and seal. Sharp vegetables may puncture the wrapper which is why I like to start with a few partial leaves of butter lettuce (with the center rib removed so they are pliable).
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Vietnamese Spring Rolls are fresh and filling. Making them yourself allows choice of your favorite ingredients. I have shared a combination I love in this recipe however any ingredients can be swapped from a similar volume alternative.
The most time consuming part of the recipe is preparing the filling in small sizes to allow easy rolling. The actual rolling part is not difficult though takes a bit of practice to uniformly make rolls the same size. All the rolls can be eaten along the way! Make one full roll then proceed with making more. The wrappers should be dipped and rolled one at a time for the best result.
- 2 Avocados, ripe yet firm; cut into ½ inch wide lengths
- 1 head Butter Lettuce, leaves cut from the firm center rib
- 1 medium-large Red Pepper, peeled and cut into 3-4 inch julienne strips
- 1 medium-large Yellow Pepper, peeled and cut into 3-4 inch julienne strips
- 1 bunch fresh Cilantro
- 2 medium Carrots, top removed, peeled and cut into 3 inch julienne strips
- 1 medium Cucumber, peeled and cut into 3-4 inch julienne strips
- 1 package of Vietnamese Rice Paper Wrappers for spring rolls
- Suggested dipping sauce: Sweet Chili Sauce (available in the Asian section of most grocery stores or online)
- Note: Each wrapper has one side that is smoother than the other; that smooth side should be placed facing outward for rolling. Dip a wrapper into warm water to fully wet and place on a plastic cutting board or a clean, damp kitchen towel (without texture). The wrapper will continue to soften as it sits. Note: dip only one wrapper at a time and complete one spring roll before dipping the next wrapper to avoid over wetting and tearing.
- Layer ingredients for the filling approximately 2-3 inches from the bottom and in a rectangular pile (see photos below): 6 cilantro leaves, 2-3 lettuce leaves, 2-3 pepper strips, 3 cucumber strips, 2-3 carrot sticks, 2 slices of avocado. This is an example; you can combine the vegetables as you prefer them however do not add a larger volume than this.
- Using dampened fingertips, fold the bottom up over the filling. Fold each the right and left sides over vertically.
- Using firm pressure, gently roll the end with the filling over to snugly seal the spring roll. The wrapper is self-sealing so will stick to itself.
This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.