Most folks who’ve gone out for Thai or Vietnamese food have had these delicious fresh spring rolls and loved them, and thankfully they’re not at all hard to make at home. They’re amazingly versatile, beautiful and nutritious. You can fill them with virtually any vegetable, so long as they’re thinly sliced. Additional fillings you can try are strips of fried tofu, sauteed/roasted mushrooms, vermicelli noodles, carrot strips, and avocado. Jicama, if you’re not familiar with it, is a most delicious tuberous root vegetable from Mexico. It’s flavor is mild, slightly sweet, with a one of a kind texture and crunch. Worth seeking out, it can be found in most grocery stores, or try your local Asian or Mexican market. If you can’t find it you can substitute carrot, radish, or broccoli stem strips. The spring roll wrappers can be found in the Asian aisle of most grocery stores, get the 8 or 9″ ones. The one thing you do not want to leave out of these guys are the fresh herbs. They MAKE the flavor of these rolls. Any combination of fresh mint, cilantro, parsley, or basil will work, but I’d go with at least two, our favorites being mint and basil. If you make these to bring to a party, make them as close to party time as possible, and cover the plate with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to ensure the rice paper wrappers do not dry out. These will become a recipe staple for you once you give them a try, they are that good.
1 cup thinly sliced jicama (or carrots, radish, or broccoli stems)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh basil leaves
Peanut Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
3/4-1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp rice or white vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar or agave syrup
1 Tbsp coconut aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh shallot or onion
1/2 tsp (or more) fresh thai chili (optional)
Thinly slice all veggies into strips and place in separate clusters on large plate. Remove herbs from stems and add whole leaves to plate as well.
Boil water and fill very wide bowl or pie plate about half way full, let sit for a few minutes to cool ever so slightly. One at a time, soften spring roll sheets by dipping them into the hot water, using your fingers to move them around. Depending on hotness of water, it will take about 2-10 seconds for them to soften. They should be pliable but not mushy and falling apart, think al dente pasta, as they will continue to soften even out of the water. Layer two softened spring roll sheets on top of one another on cutting board (wood works well here) and fill bottom third with a a bit of each veggie and herbs, do not over stuff! Less is more here. Roll up like you would a mini burrito, tucking in sides and rolling up tightly. It will conveniently stick to itself, making this very easy. Cut in half and place on serving plate.
In a blender combine all ingredients for peanut sauce and process 10-20 seconds until creamy. Transfer to small bowl and top with chopped scallions or additional chopped chili pepper, if desired.
Renee Press is the founder of Fire and Earth Kitchen in Seattle WA. which offers cooking classes, food coaching, and chef services. She's on a mission to make vegan, gluten-free cooking easy, accessible, and delicious for everyone. fireandearthkitchen.com