I know it’s February and I’m posting spring rolls. But the last few days, it hasn’t felt at all like the dead of winter. I’ve felt the sun warm on my face, I see tiny buds popping up on tree limbs, and 6 0′clock rolls around and I can still see the sun – maybe just remnant rays, but it’s not dark.
It’s likely not the end of winter, and I don’t want it to be. I have more skiing to do! But these early signs of spring make me crave fresh flavors and crunch. Spring rolls embody both. Fill your delicate rice paper rounds with anything you’re craving – no rules! I must have avocado and shrimp, but I’m not crazy about the vermicelli noodles that are so often wrapped inside.
When you make fresh spring rolls there are a couple of things to remember: have all of your fillings prepared in advance, work quickly with the wrappers, and keep the rolls covered with a damp paper towel if you’re making several. I say work quickly and that the wrappers are delicate, but they’re also surprisingly sturdy. It amazed me that I could pull the wrapper tightly around the filling and roll without having it tear. So have a light touch, but don’t be intimidated. And if you’re making these for the first time, I recommend taking a look at this excellent tutorial of the process.
I chose to make a simple peanut dipping sauce for these, but Thai Sweet Chili Sauce is another great option.
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 9 medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- white vinegar
- 6 round rice paper sheets
- 6 small romaine lettuce leaves
- 2 carrots, scrubbed and sliced into matchsticks
- ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup very thinly sliced cabbage
- ⅓ cup basil leaves, very thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, very thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and very thinly sliced
- Whisk lime juice, peanut butter, and honey together in a small bowl or measuring cup until honey is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Serve or refrigerate until needed.
- Bring a skillet about half full of salted water to a boil (you want just enough water to cover the shrimp); add a splash of vinegar. Add shrimp to boiling water and cook just until pink and cooked through; remove with a slotted spoon. Rinse quickly under cold water to cool. Slice each shrimp in half, lengthwise. Set aside.
- Wet a paper towel with cold water and squeeze until just damp. Place on serving tray and set aside.
- Fill a pie plate or other shallow bowl with hot, not boiling water.
- To assemble the rolls, dip one sheet of rice paper in hot water until pliable - about 5 seconds. Place on a smooth work surface. Place a lettuce leaf near the middle of the wrapper and top with about ⅙ of each filling ingredient, ending with prawn halves (don't over-stuff the roll).
- Carefully lift an edge of the wrapper that runs long-wise to the filling. Pull it up over the filling, then lift the wrapper at each end of the filling; pull it up around the filling ends and press lightly. Continue rolling, holding the ends, until the wrapper overlaps itself and filling is completely enclosed.
- Transfer to serving plate, seam side down. Cover with damp paper towel.
- Repeat with the remaining rolls.
- Serve with peanut dipping sauce or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.