Maybe it’s the end of spring that got me thinking about spring rolls or the act of searching through our appetizer archives looking for something different when I came upon Vietnamese Spring Rolls and thought, yum, I’ve got to make those again!
Whichever the reason, Spring Rolls, are a great anytime appetizer or snack. Our cooking class this month focuses on Fresh Spring Rolls, a delicious marriage of fresh vegetables and herbs rolled in a delicate rice wrapper; this is healthy and gluten-free at its finest! Fresh Spring Rolls are very easy to make and yet create an impressive presentation. Click on our Cooking Class link to get step by step instructions.
Fried Spring Rolls are made in a similar fashion, but usually include cooked pork with pungent flavorings. Once fried, the rice paper wrapper becomes crisp and turns these delectable rolls into a habit-forming snack you won’t be able to put down.
For both fresh and fried rolls, the secret ingredient is the dipping sauce. Both fresh and fried are fabulous when dipped in a spicy sauce that brings the vegetables or the stuffing flavors to life.
Below are some of our favorite ‘dipping sauces’ for spring rolls:
Hoisin Sauce (great with fresh spring rolls)
- 1/2 cup gf hoisin sauce (be sure to use a gluten-free hoisin sauce, we used Premier Japan, Organic Wheat-free Hoisin Sauce from Edward & Sons)
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 3 Tablespoons gf soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon freshly minced ginger
- In a small bowl combine gf hoisin sauce, water, gf soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and minced ginger.
- Cashew Dipping Sauce (great with fresh spring rolls)
- 1 cup unsalted cashews
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup plain soy yogurt
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons gf soy sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a food processor, blend the cashews with the oil, scraping down sides, until mixture forms a paste. Add the soy yogurt, garlic, lime juice, gf soy sauce, and cayenne pepper. Blend mixture until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Fish Dipping Sauce (great with fried spring rolls)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 red chili, seeded and minced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
- 2 Tablespoon fish sauce
In a small saucepan, boil water, vinegar and sugar. Let cool. Mix together chili, garlic and lime juice. Add mixture to vinegar mixture. Add fish sauce and mix well.
A few tips for fried spring rolls: Make sure the oil is very hot before frying. If the oil is very hot, the rolls will crisp and not become greasy. Place fried rolls on a paper towel to drain off all oil and let sit for a few minutes before serving to set the rolls.
The following fried spring roll recipe is my personal favorite and never fails to remind me of the pungent and appetizing smells of the market air, the heat and the kind people of Vietnam, where I lived when I was 14 and 15 years old.
Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls
Makes about 25 rolls
- 1 pound ground pork
- 8 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and minced
- 4 ounces crab meat, minced
- 5 shallots, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 ounce rice noodles, soaked in water and chopped
- 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- 25 rice paper wrappers, small size if available (rice paper wrappers can be found in Asian grocery stores or specialty food stores)
- Vegetable oil for frying
To make rolls:
Combine all stuffing ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Soak each sheet of rice paper in a large plate filled with water. Rice wrappers will become soft and pliable in a few minutes. Remove wrapper from water and place a spoonful of stuffing in center of wrapper. Fold left and right sides of wrapper into center and then roll up from bottom edge to far end. Be careful not to wrap too tightly or wrappers will tear.
Place rolls in hot oil and fry over medium heat until golden brown. Serve with fish sauce dip.
- Chef Yvonne