Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spring Rolls: SO Worth the Effort

A couple years ago, a friend of mine asked me to cater an appetizer party for her husband's co-workers. I went in search of some fun recipes that, along with my tried and true ones, would make her party a success. I became intrigued by fresh spring rolls. I looked at recipes all over the internet and decided that I would just pull from each recipe those ingredients that *I* like and give'er a go. In case you are wondering...NO...I did not make them the first time for the party. I had a test run.

So I'm going to share my recipe for making fresh spring rolls. You will need the following ingredients:

  • shrimp I buy 40-60 count in 12 oz bags. They're cooked peeled and deveined with only the tails left that need to be pulled off. I use 2 bags to make appx 20 rolls.
  • spring roll wrappers (Banh Trang makes 2 varieties, wheat flour and rice flour...BOTH WORK WELL. These come in the Asian food section of most grocery stores, or can be found at asian specific food markets)
  • rice sticks (or rice vermicelli). You'll need about half a package. Soften as directed.
  • red and yellow pepper, cleaned and cut into matchstick size pieces
  • cucumber(normally I use and english, but not necessary. This time I used a regular cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, then in half width wise and deseeded it and cut it into match stick sizes
  • carrots (I'm lazy...I bought those already in matchstick size pieces
  • fresh cilantro (washed and removed from the stems leaving the leaves mostly intact (I used a half a bunch and have a lot leftover)
  • fresh basil (washed and removed from the stems leaving leaves intact. I used about 4 large stems cut from my basil planter in back)
  • hot water (I bring a pot to boil then keep it hot on the stove on low)

Once I have my ingredients ready (and I'll be honest, it's time consuming so I recommend doing all your cutting one day and assembling the next...the shrimp you can thaw out the day you assemble), I take two flour cloth dish towels (mine ARE clean, just stained) and wet them. I put the made rolls on one to keep them moist, and I assemble the spring rolls on the other. I set a pie plate, which I fill with about 1 inch of hot water, enough to submerge a spring roll wrapper. The hotter the water, the quicker the wrapper will soften so, be ready.
When you feel the paper start to SOFTEN, pull it out and set it on the damp dishtowel(the damp towel will help the wrapper continue to soften and it will be pliable when you are ready to roll):

I use 4-5 shrimp/roll and place them on the bottom, then a layer of softened rice noodles:

Followed by 2 of each color pepper strip, two cucumber strips and a few carrot matchsticks:

I then put a layer of cilantro over the veggies and top that with a couple basil leaves (2 if they're big, up to 4 if they're small):

I then CAREFULLY fold the spring roll as you would a burrito, sides first:

Then begin the roll, keeping all ingredients tight. Be careful...too tight will rip the wrapper, not tight enough and the ingredients will fall out when you cut:

Continue to roll and VOILA:

I've made these in advance, but never more than 2 days. The wrappers are very sensitive to cold and freeze quickly, EVEN in a refrigerator on a "warm" setting wrapped in clean damp flour cloth dishtowels.

To serve the spring rolls, I cut them on a diagonal:And serve them with a Thai Sweet Chili sauce:
Except...I've never been able to eat just one, let alone a half of one. Ahem.