Saturday, May 29, 2010


I have to admit that sometimes during the summer, despite my claims to love cooking and eating, it becomes difficult to make myself eat real food. When the days get hot and long, I subsist more and more on watermelon and lemonade and not enough of anything else, but these spring rolls are light and easy to eat. They may or may not be the perfect food. Technically making them includes more assembling than cooking, but I'll definitely count it as a win.

I made these last week to bring to a barbecue, but I'm not including quantities in the recipe, because it depends on how many spring rolls you want to make. Actually, it's really because I wasn't measuring anything when I was making them.

Spring rolls

*rice paper wrappers
carrots, in thin sticks
cucumber, in thin sticks
romaine leaves, torn
*rice vermicelli or cellophane noodles
shrimp (optional), boiled, shells and tails removed, and halved lengthwise
mint, chopped coarsely
thai basil, chopped coarsely
cilantro, chopped coarsely
peanut sauce for dipping

*available in Asian markets

Prepare the individual ingredients- chop/dice/cook/boil, and cook the vermicelli noodles according to the directions on the package.

You'll want to have a flat work space such as a cutting board with all the ingredients within reach. Pour hot water into a wide, shallow pan (a baking pan will work). For each spring roll, dip a rice paper wrapper in the hot water and soak evenly for about 5 seconds (shorter if your water is extremely hot, and longer if its getting cool).

Carefully lay the (now soft) rice paper onto your cutting board. On the edge of the wrapper closest to you, make a small pile of the filling ingredients. Do not overstuff your spring rolls! Overstuffing will lead to an ugly or ripped roll.

I like to start each roll with 2-3 pieces of lettuce, 1 or 2 sticks each of carrot and cucumber, a small handful of noodles, a pinch of each of basil, mint and cilantro, and two half-shrimp.

To roll things up, start rolling away from you, incorporating the filling ingredients and tucking in the extra ends of rice paper after the first full roll. Place on wax paper, and serve at room temperature with peanut sauce for dipping.

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