Fresh Spring Rolls
With my crazy work schedule and the boyfriend’s crazier hours at the market, I just don’t have the appetite for a heavy dinner at 9pm. Spring rolls are perfect for those nights. It’s light and fresh but not too heavy.
The basic ingredients are rice vermicelli noodles, lettuce, herbs, and different meats wrapped in soft rice paper and served with a sweet and sour fish sauce or hoisin peanut sauce. Spring rolls are also great as appetizers for parties. Instead of a fondue party, try a spring roll party. Have different fillings ready for your friends to roll themselves.
The spring rolls you often see on restaurant menus are char siu pork and shrimp rolls. If you are can get to Southeast Market earlier enough on Saturday and Sunday, pick up some char siu for your spring rolls. It’s also wonderful with spinach and grilled salmon. My family likes it with ground pork and pork skin. The boyfriend loves it with nem nuong (Vietnamese cured pork).
*For vegetarians, replace meat and shrimp with seasoned firm tofu, thinly sliced egg omelets, or carrots, zucchini, and shitake mushrooms.
Fresh Spring Rolls
Makes 10-12 rolls
1 package rice paper
1/2 lbs char siu pork
1/2 – 1 lbs headless, shelled, and deveined shrimp
1/4 ice berg lettuce sliced thinly or 3 cups spring lettuce mix
Rice vermicelli noodles
Cucumbers or carrots (cut into matchstick sizes)
Asian herbs (mint, purple perilla (tia to), rau ram, cilantro, etc…)
Char Siu Pork
1 lb tenderloin or pork shoulder
1 package Char Siu/Roast Pork powder mix – (I prefer Lobo Brand)
1 cup Lee Kum Kee Char Siu marinade
2 tablespoon honey
Sweet and Sour Fish Sauce
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 – 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/3 – 1/2 cup fish sauce
1 garlic clove minced
Sambal Oelek Chili Garlic sauce or crushed fresh thai chilies
Hoisin Peanut Sauce – makes 2 cups
1/2 cup water
1 cup hoisin (Lee Kum Kee brand)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoon coconut milk
Start by marinating the char siu. Mix the char siu mix, marinade, and honey with 1 cup of hot water in a bowl. Pour over pork and allow it to marinade for 30 mins to an hour. Bake on for 45 mins. to 1 hour on 400 degrees. (Left over char siu can be used for fried rice).
While the pork is cooking, boil thawed or fresh whole shrimp for about 2 minutes. Cook the shrimp whole. After the shrimp is cook, slice it in half.
Next, boil your vermicelli noodles. There are many types of vermicelli rice noodles. If you are not sure, look for the words “bun” on the package or ask one of the guys at the store to help you find one. (Please don’t use bean thread noodles. Just don’t. Don’t even ask.) The one I am using should only take 8 mins to cook. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Cut up your cucumber, lettuce, and rinse your herbs. Make sure to use only the leaves of the herbs. If the leaves are too large, roll up the leaves and slice into smaller pieces. Mix the herbs with the bean sprouts.
Now it’s time to make your dipping sauces.
For the fish sauce, start by boiling the water and sugar on medium high. Let it boil for about 10 mins to dissolve the sugar and form a syrup. The longer you boil, the thicker the syrup. Turn off heat and add your minced garlic, fish sauce, and lime juice. Some like it sweeter or more sour. The boyfriend likes his salty and sweet. Taste and adjust it depending on how you like it.
For hoisin sauce, add water and sugar to a small pot on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add hoisin, peanut butter, and coconut milk. Hoisin by itself is too overpowering. The coconut milk will level it out. Stir until peanut butter dissolves. The sauce should be a little thick. If it is too thick or strong for you, add more water and coconut milk. If it is too runny, add more hoisin. Serve with crushed roasted peanuts and chili garlic sauce. (I like Sambal Oelek Chili paste.)
Ok now the fun part. Let’s get rolling.
I do everything by the sink so I have a bowl of hot water ready. If you are a beginner, try to find the square shaped rice paper. It’s much easier to wrap. Dip the rice paper into the hot water for just a few seconds. Place it on a flat surface. Immediately start layering with vermicelli noodles about 1 in from the bottom. The rice paper will soften and become pliable by the time you start rolling. (Sometimes I like to place a clean unused towel on a plate to roll. The towel will absorb the excess water and make it easier to roll.)
Next add your lettuce and herb mix.
Now your meat. Take the bottom edge and fold it over the meat. You want to keep it tight so lightly squeeze as you roll.
Add the shrimp with the cut side up. Fold the sides and roll.
And your done! You have officially graduated from Spring Roll Class. Nice job!