While the rest of the country is freezing and snowed in, the balmy days here in the Pacific Northwest gave me a hankering for some light and savory spring rolls. We’ve been bordering on 60 degrees all week and I’ve been wondering where winter went this year? I’m typically making soups and stews during January, not fresh and crunchy spring rolls!
I set up a “build-your-own-spring-roll” station on the kitchen counter, showed the family how to soak their rice wrapper, choose their filling, and how to roll it up. I got a little over-zealous with my spring roll filling as it was bursting at the seams! My husband made three of them, and his were neat and tidy packages like you see at the restaurants, but he ate his before I could photograph them. And me? Well I’m not exactly a perfectionist. Do as I say, not as I do, right? Besides, you do want to eat these right away or the rice wrapper becomes a bit gummy over time.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you. I julienned all the vegetables earlier in the day, cooked the noodles, then stored them in the refrigerator until we were ready to get rolling. About 15 minutes before dinner, I made the spicy peanut sauce, laid out all the fixin’s, and the dinner bell rang! Everyone agreed these were a surprising tasty meal on a not-so-cold mid-winter’s night.
You can substitute and/or omit any of the vegetables for ones of your liking. On a whim, I bought a jicama to add to the mix, which added a slightly sweet crunch to the roll. Same with the herbs, you may use any or none of them, or even sub in parsley. Although I do think each one adds its own depth of flavor in the end.
Shrimp and Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Spicy Peanut Sauce
For the spring rolls:
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
4-inch chunk of cucumber, julienned
1/2 jicama root, julienned
3 green onions, green part cut into 4-inch pieces
Romaine lettuce leaves
2 ounces dried rice noodles
Round rice wrappers
Fresh cilantro, mint, and Thai basil
For the spicy peanut sauce:
4-inch piece of lemongrass root
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/2 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (Thai chili paste)
Wash and prep all your vegetables, cook the rice noodles according to directions, and store in containers in the refrigerator until ready to make your rolls.
About 15 minutes before serving, make the peanut sauce. Boil the lemongrass in the water in a small saucepan for 5 minutes. Remove the lemongrass then add the rest of the ingredients and whisk until smooth. Turn down heat and simmer until thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.
Lay out a wet dish towel on the counter, and set up a line of all your vegetables, herbs, and shrimp. Put one rice wrapper in a shallow pan and cover with water, and swirl it around until it becomes soft and pliable. Working quickly, lay the wrapper on the wet dish towel, top with a lettuce leaf, some rice noodles and fillings/herbs of choice. Fold the bottom of the rice wrapper up over the filling, tuck in both sides, then roll up the rest of the way. Serve with the warm spicy peanut sauce.