Perhaps you’ve noticed that I am obsessed with Spring, sunlight, anything signaling signs of warm weather. If I could, it would be Spring & Summer year round (I know this begs the question–why do you live in the Northeast? Not really sure–I guess my best answer is that New York is like heroine–you try it and you love it, you start to hate it and have to quite, and then you quite New York for three days and then the two finger tap on the inside of your elbow starts until you cross a bridge and are can stop hyperventilating because you are back on the island). So, since I am battling an addiction here, Harlem is where I stay.
But, on to the Spring Rolls! Not only is this recipe super easy because there is literally no cooking (you have to boil some water, but that hardly counts), you can also mix & match all of your ingredients to come up with exciting and unexpected flavors combinations that will wow your Tapas Night guests or your judgmental in-laws. This recipe is also super fun for kids because they LOVE to pick what they are going to awkwardly roll into the sticky rice paper.
However, if you don’t have a mandolin then I don’t advise that you make this recipe at all, or you just make it and have no expectations of your Spring rolls offering any kind of aesthetic appeal. In fact, I think that if you were to try to cut all of these veggies in perfect matchsticks without a mandolin, t would still take you less time to run down to Bowery and buy an $8 mandolin than it would to hand-cut the carrots, cucumber, and mango.
Must Have Ingredients:
Brown Rice Paper wraps (I use the Star Anise Foods brand, which are apparently the only brown rice spring roll wrappers on the market)
Cucumber, deseeded and cut into matchsticks
Large Carrot, cut into match sticks
1 bunch Cilantro, leaves only
1 bunch mint, leaves only
4-5 large leafs of leafy green or red lettuce, shredded
1-2 oz vermicelli noodles (also known in Chinatown as Mung Bean Threads)
Choose One (or two, or three):
Crispy seared shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 mango, cut into match sticks
½ of an avocado, thinly sliced
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 1/2 tbs rice wine vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tbs chili garlic sriracha
4 tbs peanut butter
5 tbs water
In addition to a sturdy white or brown rice paper, the foundation of every spring roll is cucumber, carrots, cilantro, and mint.
For this last group of ingredients there really are no rules. You can choose one, or all three, or decide that you want to have totally different optional ingredients. In addition to what is pictured above, I also love adding nectarines, plums, boiled shrimp, or a sliced pork meatball.
(method really is the only important thing to maintain in this recipe, otherwise you can stuff whatever you want into your Spring Rolls)
Now, here is where things get a little tricky (and if you are doing this with kids, you will be hilariously entertained). grab the bottom end of the rice paper and snugly fold it over the filling until it touches the inside of it’s self, making a tight cylinder. Fold over each side of the rice paper, making it a tight pouch (but not so tight that the carrots rip through the paper. Once you try it a few times you’ll get the technique down, and then you can make as many spring rolls with as many variations you want.