Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fresh Wraps

First, apologies to anyone who wanted this recipe up earlier this week…life has been crazy busy. Second, I wish you all the very best Christmas, and fondest hopes for a blessed New Year!

Moving on…

I adore spring rolls or “fresh wraps” as we call them at my house. There is nothing more delightful than having my entire salad rolled up into a neat little package…add a little spicy peanut sauce or some Thai red chili sauce and I am in heaven.

You can make spring rolls year around but for some reason I find I make them more around the holidays…they are a big hit at parties and I always get requests for the recipe…(thus the reason for this post.)

Spring rolls are very easy to make in themselves. Most of the work comes in prepping the ingredients. Also, the wrappers can sometimes feel tricky to work with but don’t give up…it takes a little practice and in the end it is well worth your effort!

A couple of special ingredients you’ll need:

Wrappers…these can be purchased at Asian markets and some upscale groceries that carry specialty Asian items. They can also be purchased online. There are a couple of varieties and some work better than others. They also come in several sizes—appetizer to main entrée. If you’re new at making them, choose the 8-12 inch wrappers for easier assembly. When you pick up the package give it a squeeze, if there is any give at all…keep looking. The best ones are hard, flat, and completely smooth (no bumps).

Rice noodles…again purchased either online or at an Asian grocery. You want thin noodles…approximately the size of angel hair pasta or a little thinner. They will be labeled bean threads, rice vermicelli, or sometimes ‘oriental style instant noodles’. It is nice if they come in little bundles like in the picture but I can't usually find them like this. Most often they just come in a large package. Bean threads do come in smaller individual packages.

Thai Fresh Spring Rolls
1 pkg Spring roll rice wrappers
1 pkg bean threads or vermicelli rice noodles
2-3 carrots—grated
1 avacado—sliced
lettuce—rinse and spin dry
½ cucumber—sliced length wise
¼ onion—slice thin
protein of choice—crab, marinated tofu, chicken, prawns, shrimp, pork loin (optional)

Start by prepping your ingredients, laying them out for easier assembly. Place your noodles in boiling water for 5 to 8 minutes and then fill pot with continuously running cold water to stop the cooking process. You want your noodles to be bundled into thick ropes, so when they are cold, still in the water, reach in and with a dipping motion, dip the noodles back and forth in the cold water to align them. When you have a fair number aligned and smooth, place them on a spatter screen to drain and dry a little. Continue until you have all of the noodles out of the water and on the screen. (You can skip this step and just drain the noodles, but making ropes gives you a more beautiful product, and makes the noodles easier to work with.)

Once you have all your ingredients prepped, you are ready for assembly. Fill a large bowl with warm water, dip your wrapper several times to wet it completely. Lay wrapper on a cutting board or work surface. Add your ingredients. I don’t have a particular order but usually start with the lettuce. Be creative. Once your ingredient are assembled on the wrapper, fold the sides in and roll up like a burrito.

Serve with a spicy peanut or Thai sweet chili sauce.

It takes a little practice. Don’t worry if the wrappers tear a little, sometime you can roll over the tear to cover it or if tearing is a big problem, try a little less water when dipping or different wrappers.

Here are a couple of video's that will help if you get stuck. The first is how to dip the rice papers and the second will show assembly and rolling. (Use a bigger bowl of water than the one she uses in the's easier) Best of luck and Enjoy!

Photo credit for the noodles.

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