I’m so excited to share this recipe because it truly is the BEST. These spring rolls make you feel like you’re working on a piece of art, but trust me, it’s an easy craft. The only part that requires precision is when your’e dipping the rice paper in water. You want to be sure not to tear the paper, as it is very delicate. Either way, once these are done and placed with the dipping sauce, people will be complimenting you on the piece of art that lays in front of them!
I think I found this recipe on Pinterest (like most of my recipes), but loved how flexible it is with what you put into them. Think about it, you could do a non-vegetarian option with blackened chicken, cabbage and feta with a blue cheese dipping sauce, or you can go full vegetarian and mix in a bunch of vegetables, shrimp, noodles and even some mint, and serve it with the Thai peanut sauce as in this recipe, or a hoisin sauce. It’s like those books we read when we were younger, you know, the choose your own adventure books? This recipe is a choose your own ingredients adventure. I feel like this is totally my style, considering I like to experiment with different flavours all the time. If I throw something in there that doesn’t work synonymously with the other flavours, then I’ll scrap that recipe or modify the ingredients and try it again. Oh, and, the best part of this sauce? You can make it ahead of time. Store it in the fridge for a couple days if you’d like.
Alright, now it’s time for you to choose your own adventure! Or you can follow mine…
Makes: 6 spring rolls
Ingredients for the Rolls (makes 10 rolls): 1 bag frozen shrimp (pre-cooked), 1 cup finely chopped minte (you can replace this ingredient with lettuce), 1 cucumber (finely chopped) (amount can be increased or decreased), 1/3 bag shredded carrots (amount can be increased or decreased), 1/2 package rice noodles (optional), and 1 package rice paper rolls (I used 6 papers).
Ingredients for Thai Peanut Sauce (makes 4 cups): 1 1″ piece of fresh ginger (peeled), 2 small cloves garlic, 1 cup creamy peanut butter, 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce, 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar, 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes.
Instructions for Rolls: prepare your ingredients for the rolls prior to dipping the rice paper in warm water, so: chop your cucumber, run the shrimp under cold water to thaw it out, chop your mint (or lettuce), and lay out your shredded carrots. You’ll want to cook your rice noodles while you’re preparing your other ingredients if you’re adding these. After cooking the rice noodles, drain them into a strainer and rinse them with cold water (you’re going to want the spring rolls to be served cold, and it’s easier to work with the noodles when they aren’t piping hot). Fill a large bowl (large enough width to accommodate the rice paper) with warm water (note: not boiling, as you don’t want to have the paper completely fall apart, and you don’t want to burn yourself). Place the amount of rice papers you want (this recipe makes 10 rolls, so I used 10 rice papers) on a flat surface where you can lay them after for rolling. Dip them into the water one by one until they turn from hard shells to soft papers (it’ll feel like I imagine a jelly fish would feel like…trust me you’ll know when they are done). Place the paper spread out on the counter after dipping them into the water (note: you may have to replenish your hot water if the temperature cools while you’re working and the papers are not longer getting to the consistency you want). Grab small pinches of the ingredients and place them into each roll on either the right or left side of the paper. I actually counted and divided my shrimp into piles to ensure I had the same (or at least a similar amount) for each roll (I think about 4 shrimp per roll). Then, as you would roll a tortilla, fold both bottom ends inward on the side where the ingredients are, then start rolling from that side into the empty space on the paper. Be very gentle as you are doing this, because the paper can still tear at this point.
NOTE: the biggest issue I had making these was that I had to work quickly with the rice paper, otherwise it wouldn’t stick when rolling it. And then, if I tried to re-dip it, it would either tear somehow, or the water wouldn’t be warm anymore. Other than that, you will definitely enjoy crafting these! Serve them how you’d like on a large plate, then start your dipping sauce.
Instructions for the Thai Peanut Sauce: with motor running, drop ginger and garlic clove into a blender and blend until finely chopped. Add peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and 1/3 cup water and blend, adding more water by tablespoonfuls if needed to thin, until smooth. Sometimes I find it easier to melt the peanut butter on the stovetop first, as it can clearly be very sticky. You may want to chill the sauce a bit before serving if you haven’t made it ahead of time.
I paired these beauties with the refreshing Lindeman’s pinot grigio.
As I said above, you have to move relatively fast and go with whatever is thrown your way when working with rice papers. The Thai peanut sauce is a simple recipe that takes about 5 minutes.