I first made these spring rolls for an event in 1997, and now many of my clients request them. Because the recipe requires about a day to make, I usually make them for parties rather than for my weekly clients. I shred and dress the vegetables the night before, then finish the other steps the next morning.
I like the way they look on a serving platter for a party, and people often comment on the refreshing flavors of ginger and cilantro.
Makes about 12 rolls
3/4 pound carrots, shredded
1/2 pound Chinese cabbage, shredded
2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup minced fresh peppermint leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass stalks
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
3 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot
5 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light sesame oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
15 drops hot red pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
12 rice paper wrappers
Combine all ingredients (except rice paper wrappers) in a large bowl. Cover with a plate that just fits inside the bowl, then weigh this down with heavy books or canned goods. Let sit for 2 hours, then remove weight and plate and toss mixture well. Replace the plate and weights and let sit for another 8 hours. Uncover bowl and drain off as much liquid as possible.
Prepare the rice paper wrappers one at a time and fill as you go. Pour an inch or two of water into a skillet that is larger in diameter than one wrapper and heat until just simmering. Immerse a wrapper in the water for about 30 seconds, then take it out with a slotted spoon, drain off any excess water and put the wrapper on your work surface. As you take each wrapper out of the skillet, replace it with the next one.
To fill each softened wrapper, place 1/4 cup of the drained vegetable mixture to one side of the center of wrapper. Fold this side over the top of the filling, then fold in both sides and roll (like a burrito). Cut rolls in half diagonally and arrange on your serving plate. Cover finished rolls with a slightly damp towel until all rolls are made. Serve within a couple of hours with dipping sauce (below).
Tina’s Tip: The spring rolls will keep for 24 hours, but they are best eaten on the day you assemble them.
1/2 cup lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon finely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh red or green chile pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Recipe adapted from “Vegetable Spring Rolls with Thai Herbs” in The Herbal Palate.