Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls and sauce
Fresh Vietnamese spring rolls are one of my favorite snacks / appetizers, although there have been many times when I've made an entire light meal out of them. It's the Thai basil that makes them so addicting, I think.
There are many different recipes out there for these rolls. This can be a kind of "everything but the kitchen sink" dish, with a variety of additional ingredients such as mint, glass noodles and bean sprouts, as well as pork or shrimp. But I prefer them simple, and vegetarian.
- Thai Basil
- Pick all the leaves off the stalks. The stems and deep purple flower tops are generally not used. A bunch of around 10 grams will have enough leaves for three to four rolls.
- Any kind of leafy lettuce will do, such as the oaks or corals.
- Carrots seem to be a very common ingredient for the rolls, as well as the sauce that accompanies them. Finely grate or shred the carrot.
- Spring Roll Sheets
- Look in your Asian grocery's freezer case for these. I will admit that I once tried flour tortillas instead, and the results weren't bad at all, although the shape is a problem.
- Lay out a spring roll wrapper on a cutting board.
- Place a single layer of lettuce leaves on top of one end of the wrapper.
- Add a handful of Thai basil on top of the lettuce. Don't be stingy! Use a generous handful of leaves or they won't taste right.
- Top the leaves with a few strips of grated carrot.
- Pull the end of the wrapper up and over to roll up the filling. Tuck the ends in as you roll. A little bit of water on your fingertips will help 'seal' the roll up so it doesn't come undone too easily.
- Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces.
Spring Roll Sauce
The sauce is an essential part of this dish. On their own, the rolls can be a little bland, but with the sauce they turn into a veritable party in your mouth. The typical sauce is spicy-sweet, but I have a simple "cheat" that works well:
Start with Thai chicken dipping sauce, which is available at most Asian grocery stores. The sauce is a little too thick for this use, so for three or four spring rolls, start with about ½ cup (100 ml) of dipping sauce and add two to three tablespoons of hot water to thin it down. Stir in a tablespoon of finely shredded carrot and top with a teaspoon of crushed peanuts, and voilà! The perfect spring roll sauce.