Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls
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.

Ingredients

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.
Lettuce
Any kind of leafy lettuce will do, such as the oaks or corals.
Carrot
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.

Preparation Method

  • 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.

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