Recipe: Light Spring Rolls

spring rollsThese can be vegetarian (or not) and are a light, delicious starter, lunch or snack.

I LOVE spring rolls — or, at least, the non-fried kind wrapped in rice paper and stuffed with herbs and veggies.  These little bites can serve as a way to use up leftovers, which is how I came to make up my version when I found myself with some grilled hanger steak (see recipe elsewhere on the blog) in the fridge that needed to be disposed of.   They are great with any leftover protein and can also be a receptacle for leftover vegetables (raw ones, preferably). Or buy flavored tofu (as seen in photo above) or sliced roast beef from the deli or whatever you want, basically. Dipped in a light Thai sauce, they burst with flavor and it’s hard to eat just one.  Try cutting them into bite-sized pieces and serve as an appetizer.  Besides being delicious, they’re light and healthy.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. cooked protein (sliced roast beef, tofu, chicken, shellfish, etc.), in smaller pieces

1/2 to 3/4 cup stemmed, chopped mint and cilantro (or more or less to taste); fresh basil can be added if you need to use some up

4 cups shredded vegetables (recommend carrots, beets, soft lettuce, julienned cucumber, cabbage, etc.  My favorites are shredded carrots and beets with sliced scallions from the Whole Foods salad bar plus shreds of butter lettuce.)

6-inch round rice paper wrappers* – at least 48 because I double wrap them), but get extras. The larger-size rice paper wrappers can also be used.

1-2 garlic cloves

1 1/2 T brown sugar

1 teas (or more to taste) Thai green curry paste (see image below)*

3 T fresh lime juice

2 T Asian fish sauce (nuac mom)*

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I recommend the Lemonaise brand**)

rice paper wrappersHere’s the brand of rice paper wrappers I use.  Note that they’re from Vietnam.

Instructions:

In a processor or mini-chop, put garlic and run until cut up.  Add sugar and run a few seconds. Add curry paste (if you’re spice-phobic, use just a little of this stuff), lime juice, fish sauce and 3 T water.  Process until smooth. Most of this will be your dipping sauce.

In a bowl, mix 1-2 T of dipping sauce with mayonnaise and stir to blend.  This will be put inside the roll.

Mix all the shedded and/or sliced vegetables in a bowl. As previously noted, a particularly quick approach is to buy pre-shredded veggies from salad bars. If you use tofu, I recommend the Soy Deli brand of “organic baked tofu” in the flavor of your choice. Whole Foods and many other markets carry it.  You can increase or decrease the quantities of protein and vegetables/herbs to suit your taste.

Soak one or 2 (I recommend using 2 wrappers per roll) rice paper sheets in warm water until softened. If you haven’t worked with rice paper before, keep in mind that it softens quickly and can get too soft if left in the water.  It’s best to soften two at a time and create your own assembly line: Lay out the roll(s) on a work surface, slightly overlapping the two and run a thin line of the mayo mixture down one side.(Or use more; it’s quite tasty.) In the same direction, lay out some protein/vegetable mixture on top of the mayo mix.  The amount is up to you; however, I recommend using a reasonable amount.

Carefully, tightly roll up the paper, encasing the filling. You can try to fold under the ends but this is easier with larger rice paper wrappers. At this point, the rolls can be cut up into 2 or 4 pieces or left whole.

Keep repeating the process until all your filling is used up. I put the finished rolls on a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with Pam.

Refrigerate, wrapping plastic on the top. Serve with dipping sauce. If Thai flavors aren’t your thing, these rolls are great with many kinds of Asian sauces, such as peanut sauce, hoisin, mustard sauce, etc.

* all these items are available at Asian markets such as Nak’s in Menlo Park.

** available at Whole Foods, Draeger’s and gourmet markets

green curry pasteHere’s the brand of green curry paste I use, which is available in many gourmet markets as well as Asian markets.  This is great stuff; making it from scratch is even better but the ingredients might be hard to find.

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