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Veggie Tales

imagesnov10_page_4_image_0012A delicious combination of texture and a mix of flavors that zing and spark the buds, Vietnamese spring rolls are an affordable and simple dish that start off the rainy season well.

I love spring rolls. I cannot tell you how many spring rolls I could eat before I start to feel sick. By nature, they are very filling depending on which ingredients you choose to use.

The great thing about Vietnamese spring rolls is that there are a few main ingredients necessary to create them, but the combination of vegetables or even fruits and spices are up to you. The most basic element of a spring roll is the rice paper.

Rice papers come in different sizes and shapes, typically a circle or square. You can purchase these at the grocery store in the Asian food aisle or even order them online. Several blogs that I looked at while researching recommended the Three Ladies brand.

Rice papers roll kind of like tortillas, if you are familiar with making burritos (I mean— we’re in Texas), but they are thinner and smooth in texture when removed from the package. Rice papers have to be “activated,” in a sense—you have to get a bowl of warm water and dip one paper in at a time for a max of five seconds.

Once that is done, you will need to lie the paper down on a cool, nonporous surface. The rice paper will take a minute to absorb all the water, so it is important that they are still a little firm when you take it from the bowl. The papers will then thicken and become “gelatinous.” The whiteonricecouple. com blog has a great tutorial of this part.

It is important to prepare the rest of the ingredients before you get started on the rice papers since they have to be rolled before the papers dry out. For a soft texture and filling ingredient, cook rice noodles to use as a base. They are very filling because they are chock full of carbohydrates, but they also cook faster than pasta noodles.

From there you can layer carrots, bean sprouts, green or red peppers, cucumber, jicama, celery and purple or green cabbage on top. There are any number of vegetables that you can use. I recommend experimenting with different combinations to find one that you like best. You can also include fruits like mango or avocado for a base if you prefer to do without the rice noodles. To add a little flavor, throw in mint, cilantro or basil.

Once you’ve put a little bit of everything on top of the rice paper, you will fold over two ends of a circular rice paper. Then, you will start rolling on one side that hasn’t been folded. I recommend rolling closest to yourself and then away. Make sure that it is tight, if not the ingredients will fall out. Rice paper is self-gluing because it is sticky so it shouldn’t separate. And that’s all there is to it; I wish you the best in your springtime spring roll adventures.


Peanut Dipping Sauce:

Just mix these ingredients together! 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 clove garlic, mashed (or about 1 teaspoon minced)

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or a chile garlic sauce, optional for spice

1-2 Tablespoons warm water, or more as needed

optional garnish: crushed peanuts, sprinkle of crushed red pepper

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