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Old 07-13-2015, 10:20 AM   #496
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Arlington, VA
Posts: 26,992
I posted this over on FB because my phone makes that super easy. But I wanted to share it with my good friends here in the Cellar too.

The kids were off last week at my parents' house in Maine, and my wife and I grabbed some Thai takeout one of those evenings. For an appetizer, we always get these fresh Thai spring rolls that come with a sweet hot pepper dipping sauce, and they are absolutely delicious. As I was eating mine, I focused on the stuff inside. There was nothing terribly exotic in there. Lettuce, cilantro, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, and shrimp. I commented that I bet we could make these ourselves pretty easily, and that if we had a bunch of them, it would make a nice meal instead of just our usual appetizer.

So on Sunday, we drove a mile up the road to the Eden Center. This is a shopping area that is famous in the Asian community on the East Coast. Any Asian stuff you want can be had there. Mostly Vietnamese, but really any country. Going into the large supermarket there is very much like going to a different country. Alphabets I don't recognize, most of the produce I don't recognize, meats I don't recognize. We were able to pick up all the ingredients, including the rice paper wrappers, which are the key ingredient. The sauce is also key, but we had a bottle at home already to go with the lettuce wraps we sometimes make. So if you want to make this, get the rice paper that has Tapioca as a main ingredient. It works well, and is apparently the best kind of rice paper for these. And get some hot pepper sweet sauce.

We shredded the lettuce, and julienned the carrots and cucumbers. I cleaned and steamed the shrimp and sliced them in half lengthwise.

Then I found this video, which starting at the 3:40 mark shows how to put all the ingredients in the rice paper and roll it up.

You just put a neat pile of lettuce down on the wet rice paper. Then a few sprigs of cilantro on top of that, a small spear of cucumber, a bit of carrot, and some bean sprouts. Then carefully lay the shrimp halves down next to that pile, with the pink side facing down, so it will show in the final product. By now, the hard crispy rice paper you dunked into the warm bowl of water will have become soft and sticky, and stretchy. You peel up the edge and start wrapping it all up. The rice paper sticks to itself and rolls up beautifully. You can tuck the sides in, or not. We tucked them in, but the restaurant we go to leaves them open.

We made 22 of them for 4 of us to share, and were not able to finish them. We had bought a pound of shrimp, and were running out of rice paper and other ingredients, so I started really loading the shrimp on at the end.

Pour a little of the sauce into tiny bowls and put crumbled peanuts on top of the sauce.

They were super yummy, and I gorged myself.
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