Mint is our ingredient of the season. Our archive of mint posts is rich with ideas for drinks, salads, main dishes, and cosmetic uses!
Before last week I had eaten my fair share of spring rolls, yet never made them, but with mint as our ingredient of the season, this was one of those recipes that I was excited to stretch my muscles and try making at home. I was totally intimidated before my first wrapper hit the water, but I’m happy to report that these were surprisingly easy to prepare!
Making spring rolls at home is so much fun because you can personalize them to your tastes, choosing your favorite protein (tofu, shrimp) and vegetables (sky’s the limit!). On this particular night, we opted for veg rolls with tofu as our protein and nappa cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers as our vegetables. I did the rolling while Calder and A.Max were out on a bike ride, but while doing it, I thought about how this would be even more fun to do with a group of friends ~ setting up a big spring roll bar and letting everyone roll their own. If you try that, let us know how it goes!
The flavorful punches in this recipe come from our heavy use of fresh herbs, the tofu preparation, and the peanut dipping sauce. For herbs we used a combination of Thai basil, cilantro, and mint. Most grocers do not carry Thai basil, but it’s often found in Asian markets, and sometimes at a good farmer’s market. To give the tofu some flavor, we sauteed it in a mixture of soy sauce, fresh ginger, and sesame oil, adding a nice crisp surface. Aside from peanut butter, the dipping sauce is flavored with fresh lime juice and garlic chili sauce. Basically a party in every bite.
Spring Roll Ingredients
- spring roll wrappers
- bean thread or rice vermicelli
- shredded nappa cabbage
- grated carrots
- cucumber peeled and cut into matchsticks
- Thai basil
- 12 1/2-inch slices of firm or extra firm tofu
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
- juice from half a lime
- Vermicelli. Place the dry noodles in a heat-safe bowl. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, pour it over the noodles and let them sit for 15 minutes. Drain the noodles and stir in the rice vinegar and lime juice.
- Tofu. Press the tofu with paper towels to remove any excess water. Heat the ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the tofu and saute for five-seven minutes or until lightly crisp on the outside, flipping halfway through.
- Rolling station. I think the key to successful rolls is a well-planned rolling station. Lay out the ingredients in the order that you will use them, starting with the wrappers and a pie dish of water. Then your herbs, protein, and vegetables, followed by your vermicelli. End with a clean surface for placing your finished rolls.
- Begin by soaking a wrapper in water (a pie plate of water is the perfect size for this) for about 30 seconds. You want the wrapper to be easily malleable, but you don’t want it to fall apart when you touch it. Keep in mind that it will even soften a slight bit more as you’re piling on the ingredients.
- Spread out your softened wrapper on a large plate (I find this to be the easiest way to move the wrapper down my work station).
- Pile on the ingredients! Remember to start with something pretty and/or colorful because you’ll see it through the wrapper. I started with herbs, but often you’ll see people start with shrimp. After the herbs I added the tofu for structure, then the veggies and more herbs, and finally the vermicelli.
- Wrap your roll. The wrapper will stick to itself, and this seal will become permanent as the wrapper dries, so if you can make each of the folds touch another area of the wrapper you will strengthen your roll. Start by folding in both sides, overlapping them in the back. Then fold the top down over the folded sides, and finally the bottom up.
When you’re done you should have some rolls that are as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside!
A note on handling the wrappers ~ if you let them soak the right amount of time (long enough to be easily bunch up but not long enough that they fall apart), then you should have no trouble handling and manipulating them as you move from the pie plate to your rolling surface. Rather than try to keep the wrapper flat, I found it easiest to just bunch it up in my hand, let the excess water drip off, place it on my plate, and then straighten it out again.
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4-1/3 cup water
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1.5 limes)
- 3 tsp soy sauce
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp chile-garlic paste (available in the Asian section of most grocers)
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. You can add more or less water depending upon how runny you want the sauce to be. Add to your spring rolls, and enjoy!