The course was presented as a large plate of fresh vegetable and herb fillings, dry rice papers and a dipping sauce. My first thought was, “Am I really going to be able to make these things stay together?”
After just one practice roll, the wrapping was a cinch — and a joy. I love that if making these at home, you could use any fillings you like, from shrimp and chicken to unexpected fruits and vegetables, such as jicama or mango. Since the ingredients are mostly raw, spring rolls make an incredibly nutritious and fresh-tasting appetizer.
Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recipe for Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp, but versatility is what makes spring rolls so much fun. Follow these simple rolling instructions with any combination of fillings you choose.
|Do the dip Rice papers take on a noodle-like texture when reconstituted, and they also soak up the flavors of sauces. To reconstitute, fill a bowl with warm water and soak the rice paper until softened, 5 or 6 seconds.|
|Wrap and seal Continue rolling the rice paper into a cylinder, and moisten the edges of the paper to seal the roll. Bonus: wrapping the shrimp and herbs in last ensures you’ll be able to see their bright colors through the rice paper.|
Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp
For the nuoc cham dipping sauce:
1 red Fresno chili, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. warm water
1 small Thai chili, thinly sliced into rings
For the spring rolls:
6 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp. salt
2 oz. cellophane noodles, soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes
6 rice-paper rounds, each 8 inches in diameter
6 red-leaf or butter lettuce leaves, stems removed
1 small carrot, shredded
1/2 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
18 each fresh mint leaves and fresh cilantro leaves
To make the dipping sauce, in a mini food processor or mortar, combine the chopped chili, garlic and sugar and process or grind with a pestle until a smooth paste forms. Transfer the chili paste to a small bowl and stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar and warm water. Garnish with the sliced chili. The dipping sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 4 days.
Bring a saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and salt and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the shrimp turn bright orange and opaque, about 2 minutes. Drain and let cool. Cut each shrimp in half lengthwise.
To assemble the rolls, drain the noodles. Fill a wide, shallow bowl with warm water. Working with 1 rice-paper round at a time, soak it in the warm water until softened, 5 or 6 seconds. Remove it from the bowl, gently shake off the excess water and place it on a work surface. Place a lettuce leaf horizontally on the bottom half of the moistened rice paper. In a line across the base of the lettuce, place 1 tsp. of the carrot, 1 tsp. of the cucumber, several strands of the noodles and several bean sprouts. Be careful not to overstuff the rolls. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper and carefully roll up halfway into a tight cylinder. Place 2 shrimp halves and several mint and cilantro leaves tightly along the inside seam of the roll. Fold in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll the rice paper and filling into a cylinder. Moisten the edge of the roll to seal.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Place the prepared rolls, seam side down, on a platter and cover with plastic wrap. The rolls will keep at room temperature for several hours before serving. Makes 6 spring rolls and about 1/3 cup dipping sauce.
About the author: Olivia Terenzio grew up in Mississippi, where she cultivated a love of sweet potatoes, crawfish and cloth napkins at a young age. A passion for sharing food with friends and family led her into the kitchen and later to culinary school, where she learned how to roast a chicken and decorate a cake like a pro. As a Williams-Sonoma blog editor, she’s now lucky enough to be talking, writing and thinking about food all day.