Monday, April 13, 2009

Fresh spring rolls & citrusy dipping sauce

Dear foodies,

So all of you have your dipping sauces ready right ? Good. Last week, I was going through those Thai cookbooks, I browsed through the appetizers & snacks section too. There were a variety of offerings, from steamed dumplings and lettuce rolls to deep fried spring rolls and even samosa's, inspired by the Indian snack. Thai spring rolls are filled with noodles, veggies, shrimp/meat and rolled in rice wrappers and deep fried. The moment I saw the title spring roll, for some reason fresh spring rolls came to my mind. I know, there must be something wrong with the wiring in my brain! And no matter how many times I saw the word ' deep fried' in the end of the recipe, my mind had decided it was going to be fresh rolls. So I used similar ingredients for the fillings and made these fresh rolls that seem to perfectly compliment the spring time that's blossoming around me. And to my credit, an online search did result in some hits for 'fresh Thai spring rolls' ;)
Before we get started with the rolls though, I made a quick sauce to drizzle over the rolls. Its a very simple citrusy sauce that perks up your taste buds and is very refreshing with the spring rolls. I meant to make this post earlier, but I could not find the source for this recipe :( I jotted down the recipe in my book, but did not note down where I got it from :( I will continue looking for it and update this post once I track it down, promise!
For the dipping sauce, mix together -
  • 1 nos - Thai bird chili, minced
  • 1/4 tsp - Salt
  • 1/2 tsp - Jaggery/ Palm sugar
  • 1/4 cup - Orange juice
  • 1/4 cup - Lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp - Peanuts, dry roasted & skinned
Fresh spring rolls are part of Vietnamese cuisine. They need almost no cooking and can be the perfect platform to showcase fresh vegetables. You can serve them as an appetizer/snack, but with a combination of vegetables & protein they can easily stand on their own for a light meal. The cellophane noodles used in this recipe have the shortest ingredient list - mung bean starch and water. They are also called glass noodles or bean thread noodles. You should be able to find them in the Asian foods section in the grocery store. They need to be soaked in warm water to soften up, same is the case with the rice roll wrappers, no other cooking involved.

The choice of filling for these spring rolls is limited only by your imagination. You can include veggies, a protein, herbs, seasonings/dressings. I used carrots, savoy cabbage, red & purple radishes and asparagus. Other options could be mung bean sprouts, cucumber, blanched broccoli, avocado, lettuce, spinach or any other greens of your choice.
Fresh Spring rolls
Ingredients
  • Rice roll wrappers
Filling: the quantities for each are dictated by how much of it you like in the spring roll.
  • Extra firm tofu - cut into matchsticks
  • Cellophane noodles - soaked in warm water for 8-10mins
  • Carrots, cut into match sticks
  • Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced/shredded
  • Red/purple radishes, sliced thinly
  • Asparagus
  • Cilantro/mint, chives/scallions & Basil leaves
  • Peanuts, dry roasted and skinned
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • dipping sauce
Method:
  1. Grease a baking sheet with some oil, and coat the tofu matchsticks with the same. Broil on 'low' for 5-7mins until the outer layer starts to blister and has brown spots. If using asparagus, bring some water to a boil, salt it and blanch the asparagus for 1-2mins. Prep the rest of your veggies and have them ready to go, the dipping sauces too.
  2. Fill a shallow vessel, wide enough to hold the rice roll wrappers, with some warm water. You will be dipping your hands in it, so don't make it too hot :-) I work on one roll at a time. Soak the wrapper in water, depending on how warm the water is and the thickness of the wrapper it might take 30sec to 1min to soften and become flexible. A little longer and they will turn to a mush.
  3. Place it on your work surface, layer the filling, horizontally, on the bottom 1/3 rd portion of the circular wrapper, leaving just enough wrapper area to fold it over the filling. Don't overdo the filling, use a couple of pieces of each and sprinkle some salt and pepper. Top with fresh herbs, peanuts and dipping sauce. I alternated between the grilled salsa, peanut sauce and the one above. Fold the bottom part of the wrapper over the filling, roll it once, and fold over the left & right portions of the wrapper onto it. Holding the filling tightly together, roll it till you reach the end of the wrapper. Try to remove as much air as possible while rolling, it makes it easier to eat.
  4. Repeat the steps to make as many rolls as needed and line them up with a little room between each other so they don't end up sticking to each other.
I am sure you will mess up the first wrapper while soaking it ( a few more for me :-P) but, once you get the hang of it, nothing can be easier. For a wrapper that thin, they are pretty sturdy and can be easily filled and rolled. Its so much fun to play around with flavors and fillings for these rolls. I can surely say you will make them often after the first time, there is no real recipe here, so you cannot really dislike it! Keep experimenting till you find the one you like, and then... move on to the next combination :) The citrusy dipping sauce brightens the flavor of the veggies. The slight heat from the grilled salsa, crunch from the veggies and peanuts, and protein from the tofu and noodles make these a complete package. Oh, and did I mention its healthy ?!

P.S: Puthandu nalvazhthukkal to all the Tamilians reading this, Happy Vishu, and Happy New year to everyone else welcoming a new year today :-) Have a wonderful day all!

34 thoughts:

Pavani said...

Fresh spring rolls look delicious Priya.. Delicate yet filled with sturdy yummy stuff like tofu.. Nice one.

SJ said...

I lOVE this roll! Its so filling and healthy. Happy new year to you also!

Divya Vikram said...

Love thai food. These rolls look too good. You made it like a pro..

Sonu said...

Hey Priya,
You gal definitely become Thai lover! hai na?:D Kya tum April me sirf Thai food hi khaogi kya?;) Your spring roll look so tempting and healthy of course.
Sonu:)
www.sevenspice.wordpress.com

pelicano said...

Gosh I love love love these and I haven't had them in well over a year and you are totally making me want some RIGHT NOW.

Indhu said...

the rolls look so delicate...
how do you make them look soo pretty?

FoodyGuru (Srimathi) said...

I just had these from Trader Joes a few weeks ago and I was thinking of making them sometime.Thanks for the recipe I need not look far. The photos looks very natural and I am sure they must have tasted perfect.

Madhu said...

Looks so fresh..Love the flavors and diping sauce.

Sathya Sankar said...

Ooh i love these rolls priya, they look awesome.

Prathibha said...

Spring rolls look yummy....

rekhas kitchen said...

looks so yummy and my all time favorie and that dipping ican imagine the aroma ummm yum yum

Parita said...

Hi Priya, Fresh spring rolls really look delicious, love your presentation, it looks classy, wish i could grab one :)

Vani said...

Love the look of the spring rolls, Priya! Looks like the rice paper needs some delicate handling and precision soaking. LOVED the pics!

Priya said...

Pavani, yes, these are surely a mouthful :-)

SJ, and easy to make too, a perfect combo for a lazy me :D thanks for the wishes.

Divya, you should have seen the first two :D

Sonu, haan, wahi ho raha hai. thai nahin tho, burger ya wrap bana lethi hoon. bus tumhare gujju recipes ka intezar hai :) Add a link to your wordpress blog on your blogger profile for easy access.

Pel, and you can load them up with those pickles too!! Now I want some of those jars right now :((

Indhu, I don't even have to try :P The translucent wrappers with the colorful veggies peeking from underneath are such treat by themselves.

Priya said...

Srimathi, long time no see :) Do try making them at home, I'm sure you'll love them even more.

Madhu, thank you

Sathya, they are so refreshing na! thank you :)

Thank you Prathibha.

Rekha, the dipping sauces add the needed spice and flavor boost to these fresh rolls and the peanut one is my fav.

Parita, I wish I could let you pick one too! Thank you :-)

Vani, they only look delicate, not tough to handle at all. For something that thin they are quite sturdy and pliable. Once you adjust the soaking time, you will be making them in a jiffy. Give them a try :)

Soma said...

Oh these are soo pretty. i had no clue that u can have the fresh spring rolls!! the other day i saw these wrappers in the store, & I was thinking that u must have used these, as i had seen the pictures. Just feel like biting into these. I'll get these wraps.

A_and_N said...

Perfect. Making this soon. Bookmarked.

myspicykitchen said...

spring rolls look delicious..

Sonu said...

I added my Wordpress blog link in my profile. Thanks for pointing out.:)

Varsha Vipins said...

I loved all your pics Priya..These look like from an exotic Thai kitchen..:)..Yum spring rolls n dip..grt combo..:)
Thanks so much for trying out the pulisseri n letting me know dear..:)Pls keep visiting..:)
Il be back here often..:)

Nirmala said...

Ah Priya those trasnparent rolls are so veyr inviting! And this weekend I searched in near by super markets for some special inrgedients but could n't find them :( I have finally settled with a dessert recipe which I will post soon ! Tamizh puthaandu vaazhthukkal :)

bee said...

yum yum super yum.

Miri said...

How I would love to have some ready made rice wrappers like those - don't get those here and don't quite like the thought of deep fried stuff!

These look amazing!

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Spring rolls are my fav I go to a restaurant nearby just to have spring rolls... Your pictures have turned me in again, wow tempting am craving for them now... First time here, gorgeous space shall drop by soon for the next recipe...

Vishali said...

wow Spring rolls look so nice....ur snaps are so beautiful so are the recipes!

Sandeepa said...

Lovely rolls Priya, never tried these rice rolls

Anu Menon said...

:) I went to Lotte plaza - a korean store near my place and went through the section and actually looked for the rice roll wrappers... this ones gonna be made n soon ;)

Food Fanatic said...

i am super impressed with ur skills!

Nags said...

these look so good! When i tried the prawns version, they were too bland to my taste though..

Malar Gandhi said...

Oh my gosh, that looks splendid, looks exactly the way they make at restaurants. Great one.

Sandeepa said...

Great work Priya. Can't you have a Thai soup with all the Thai ingreds you already have ?

Vaishali said...

Just beautiful, Priya. These are as much a feast for the eyes as I am sure they are for the tastebuds.

Pavithra said...

Great pictures.. loved ur clicks.

NIKKI said...

These look great. My husband and I just love making rolls with rice paper. A fun alternative to wrapping all the rolls yourself is to put a bowl full of warm water and a dishcloth for drying on the table along with a platter of various fillings. This way each guest can participate in the food-making process and make each roll to their liking.

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