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Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Who doesn’t love Vietnamese spring rolls? Packed with whatever veggies, noodles and herbs you like and ready to dip, Vietnamese spring rolls (also known as summer rolls) are an elegant, light food you can eat with your hands. It does take some effort to get these guys to look decent, and you may very well flub the first couple as you get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll be rewarded for the effort. I made mine with what we had around the house: fresh mint, spinach, cucumber, carrot and avocado. The spring roll skins are very delicate and tear easily, so you want to use items that aren’t so rigid they will poke through the skin. Some ideas: cooked vermicelli noodles, baked tofu, even tender Swiss chard with the tough stem removed. Another tip is to roll with two rice papers for added sturdiness.

The first order of business is to get the items you are wrapping prepared and organized so you can roll with the best of them. This mise-en-place will ensure that you can work quickly and efficiently. Mandoline slicers are recommended to get the veggies fine and uniform. I accompany the spring rolls with a peanut sauce that may not be traditional but it is a delicious complement. If you are making a large amount and especially if you are not eating them right away, you can keep them from drying out with a clean, damp kitchen towel over the top, but they are optimal when enjoyed right away.

12 - 14 rice paper skins
1 cup spinach, rinsed, tough stems removed
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 cucumbers, peeled and shredded up to the seeds (you can use the rest in a juice or blended drink)
1/3 cup fresh mint, rinsed, tough stems removed

Fill a large bowl with warm water and one at a time, quickly soften the rice paper skins. Do not over-soften or they will cling to themselves and be very difficult to work with: remove from the water when they are softened but still slightly firm. The vegetables will continue to help the paper soften. Lay the rice paper skin down on a flat surface, like a cutting board. On the top 1/3 of the paper, layer a small amount of spinach (this first creates a protective barrier from the other veggies poking through), then the rest as you like. Be careful to not over-stuff, and don’t take it all the way to the edge. Take the top of the rice paper, pull it toward you, over the veggies, and then pull in the top sides over the veggies. You want to roll firmly but also with gentleness. Keep tucking and rolling until one is complete and then soak your next rice paper. Keep doing it until you are out of rice paper and/or veggies.

Serve with Peanut Sauce and optional Sriracha.

Peanut Sauce

2 T. smooth, natural peanut butter
1 T. tamari or soy sauce
1/2 lime, squeezed

Mix these together in a small bowl or cup until integrated. It will be very thick. Slowly, add warm water until it is at the consistency you like.

2013, 2014, Vegan Street

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