After a friend was seriously injured in my apartment in Washington, I spent the night in the hospital and went straight to work. The last thing I wanted after my shift was to go back to the place of the accident. I was graciously invited to have dinner with a Vietnamese family and the meal is something I’ve never forgotten.
They served a family-style spring roll meal-there were rice noodles, bean sprouts, chopped herbs, stacks of wrappers, and a table-top stove for cooking meats. After everyone arrived, we sat down and the fun began. Each person would dip their wrapper in a bowl of warm water, swirl, and the top with any of the ingredients-roll them all up in the wrapper and devour. I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore and slept like a baby in the car ride home.
Spring rolls usually involve shrimp or shredded pork in some way, but I think they’re even more delicious without those ingredients. After you get used to soaking the wrappers, this is an easy, delicious, and mostly raw lunch.
- 1 cup cilantro, stems removed (you can include thai basil or mint as well)
- 1 medium carrots, shredded
- 1/2 cucumber, seeds and skin removed, julienned
- 2-3 green onions, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
- 1 head of romaine (alternatively, about 1 1/2 cups spinach)
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
- Bahn Trang-Rice Paper Wrappers
- 1/2-1 cup water (or soymilk)
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 2 tbsp tahini (optional)
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp chili paste
- 1 tsp sesame oil (optional, for flavor)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
1. Combine sauce ingredients in small sauce pan on low heat. I only used about 1/2 soymilk because I like my sauce thick. You can use coconut milk instead. Stir occasionally while prepping vegetables. Shred carrots, julienne cucumber, slice avocado, tear romaine into smaller pieces, and wash beans sprouts.
2. Dip a wrapper in warm water for about 10 seconds. I usually just run my wrapper under running water and coat both sides. You can alternatively have a large bowl/sauce pan/pie pan full of warm water and submerge the wrapper. You don’t want it to get too soft, because while you’re laying ingredients on, it will continue to soften.
4. The wrapper should be soft enough to roll now. Fold each side towards the middle, and roll like a burrito. Repeat until ingredients are gone. If a wrapper breaks, you can wet another wrapper and roll the first one up inside of it.
I like to change up my ingredients based on my mood and what’s in season. I usually use thin rice vermicelli instead of bean sprouts, which is pictured above. I also use sliced mango when I want something a little more sweet. You can use different types of lettuce and different vegetables according to your own tastes, or even add shrimp or tofu. Be creative!