These spring rolls are awfully good all out of proportion to their size. Also, they will fill you up fast, so plan accordingly - no more than one or two per person for an appetizer. And don't skip the sauce - it really goes well with the rolls, though you could drizzle a bit on the filling instead.
When I made these, we opted for some steamed chicken to add to the rolls. Anything you add must be fully cooked as these rolls are served raw. Usually when we have these at a Thai restaurant, they add little boiled shrimp or steamed chicken, but you can add toasted chopped peanuts or tofu (probably fried for extra flavor) for protein if you're vegetarian or vegan. Both bean thread noodles and rice paper sheets are vegan and gluten-free friendly.
Since these are primarily veggie, feel free to pack in the veggies. I added quite a bit of each so my rolls were quite big and round. But, the good news is you don't need to worry about eating a lot of cabbage! It's a super-cheap way to fill up guilt-free.
If you don't feel like cutting thin strips by hand (I didn't!), use a mandoline or food processor to grate the veggies as coarsely as possible. Just be careful - they don't dip very well if the veggies are grated so you should really drizzle the sauce over the filling instead.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls [printable recipe]
Makes approximately 8 rolls
- 1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thinly
- 1 peeled cucumber, cut into long, thin strips
- 1 oz bean thread noodles or rice vermicelli
- 2 carrots, cut into long, thin strips
- 22 cm round rice paper sheets
- 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
- 4 oz cooked chicken (cut into strips), shrimp OR tofu, roasted, chopped peanuts, etc.
- 1 recipe Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
While you prepare vegetables, get a pot of water boiling. Add the bean thread noodles and cook for 5 - 6 minutes or until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
Combine mint, cilantro and basil in a small bowl. Have the rest of the ingredients ready in separate bowls on your worksurface. Set out a large dish full of warm water for the rice paper sheets. Working with one sheet at a time and dry hands, take one sheet and soak it in the dish. After a minute or two, it will be very soft and flexible - much like plastic wrap. Remove it and carefully lay it out flat on your surface.
Along the lower third, mound your ingredients in a little log, leaving about 1" on the left, right and bottom for folding. Put a couple strips of chicken or tofu, a small amount of noodles, then add strips of cucumber, carrot and cabbage. Sprinkle over a healthy tablespoon of chopped herbs.
If you want, drizzle over a teaspoon or two of hoisin dipping sauce. Stretch the bottom of the wrapper up and over the veggies, then fold in the sides. Roll the log up towards the top and seal. These wrappers are very stretchy and will stick nicely/frustratingly to itself, so don't worry too much about tearing.
Cut in half with a bias cut and serve without delay with the (remaining) dipping sauce.