I love Vietnamese spring rolls because they are easy to prepare and healthy to eat. You can enjoy them with plenty of salad and shrimp, pork, or tofu. The trick is learning how to roll them properly to create a neat, beautiful package. Let’s learn how.
I learned how to make Vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce to celebrate the Lunar New Year with my friend Nhi. We attended the Tết Festival where Nhi donned a traditional Vietnamese aquamarine silk dress with chiffon sleeves and a tall, stiff collar. Her dress was decorated with fluffy golden clouds pillowed high from the neckline down past the waist to her knees. It was a beautiful gown.
The new year festival exhibited miniature pagoda replicas painted in red and yellow as if they stole the image from my childhood. Little red pockets hanging on the branches of mandarin trees swayed in the breeze.
That evening after the festival, I went to Nhi’s house where I met her family.
Nhi taught me how to roll a spring roll by first dipping the rice paper in water and assembling the fillings inside. First the leafy salad. Then the herbs, followed by the grilled salmon.
I watched her roll together a tight package that she dunked into the peanut dipping sauce.
It looked easy.
In my first attempt, not only did I tear the paper-thin skin but the salad and herbs burst out.
I looked over at Nhi’s dad as he rolled a fat cigar-shaped spring roll with adeptness like he had put in his 10,000 hours long ago.
Tips for success
I learned the trick was to start small. Don’t overstuff your spring roll if you’re not used to rolling summer rolls. Here are other tips to help you create a tight spring roll.
Nhi’s Spring Rolls + Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce
- 6 oz. (170 g) Rice Paper, About half a stack of rice paper. You can purchase from the Asian grocery store. I prefer the 22cm round rice paper. The Three Ladies Brand is consistently good.
- 1 lb. (455 g) Shrimp, Deveined and shelled. Lightly poached in boiling water until cooked.
- 1 head (1 head) Lettuce, Washed and dried.
- 2 blocks (2 blocks) Tofu, Extra firm and 5-spice marinated.
- 6 sprigs (6 sprigs) Thai Basil, To taste
- 6 sprigs (6 sprigs) cilantro, To taste
- 3 sprigs (3 sprigs) Mint, To taste
- 1 cup (225 g) Rice Noodles, Optional
- 1 cup (260 g) peanut butter, Smooth is fine but I prefer extra chunky.
- 3 tablespoon (3 tablespoon) Hoisin Sauce
- 1 cloves (1 cloves) Garlic, Minced finely.
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) sriracha sauce, Optional. Skip if you don’t want the sauce to be spicy.
- Water, Warm water to thin out the sauce
Making Spring Rolls
- Prepare the ingredients by washing and drying thoroughly. Lightly poach the shrimp if it’s raw. Blanch the tofu (if you have a habit of blanching tofu).
- Place hot tap water in a wide baking pan. Dip a rice paper sheet very quickly on both sides and put on a large plate.
- Assemble a spring roll by layering shrimp, tofu, lettuce, and herbs. Remember not to overfill or you’ll tear the rice paper when you roll it.
- Roll the rice paper by bringing the two shorter opposite edges together. They won’t touch but try to make them even. Pull one of the long sides over the two previous shorter edges. Then roll from the long edge until there is no more rice paper left to roll. This should close the spring roll.
- Mix the peanut butter and hoisin sauce. Use a garlic press to mince the garlic. Add the garlic directly to the peanut butter and hoisin mix.
- Add sriracha if you want the dipping sauce to be spicy. Stir the sauce to mix evenly. Add warm water to thin out the sauce and make it easier to mix. Add salt to taste.
- Enjoy your spring rolls with peanut butter dipping sauce!
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