If there’s one thing I’m obsessed with, it’s got to be the Vietnamese tradition of spring rolls, summer rolls and all things DIY. Throw a delightful platter of fresh, thin sliced veggies out, a lean protein or two, a few dipping sauces, get your warm bowl of water and rice paper wrappers, and just roll them up.
Now if you’d like to be considered cool, exotic and in-the-culinary-know… a spring roll buffet is fabulous for parties and get-togethers—familiar yet a little exotic, kind of like myself. Chock full of bright peppers, green herbs, and other colorful fillings, I’ve been known to use the pretty veg spread as a stand-in for flowers and overdone centerpieces. Presented in a variety of cute bowls and small plates, (and don’t forget to steal a Asian newspaper from the resto down the street like I did) I can sit back and let my friends roll with it.
Here’s How to wrap a spring roll smartie: Dip the wrapper in the warm water for 10 seconds. Remove from the water and lay it flat on a wet cutting board. Add 1 tablespoon of the shrimp or tofu filling to the bottom 1/4 of the wrapper, slightly spreading it out horizontally across the lower third of each wrapper. Sprinkle with some vegetables (not too many now!), making sure to leave a 1-inch border at the edge of the wrapper. Fold the sides over the filling and then fold the bottom up and over the filling rolling the spring roll tightly. Place it seam-side down and cut the spring roll in half diagonally and serve with Chinese Chop peanut dressing from my delightful cookbook Pretty Delicious page:52 (or other dipping sauces like ponzu or Mae Ploy sauce) on the side.
• 12 8 1/2-inch spring roll wrappers (available in Asian markets and the produce section of some supermarkets)
• A medium bowl of warm water to moisten the wrappers
• A wet cutting board (to keep them from sticking) as you fill and roll the spring rolls
Arrange the following ingredients on small bowls and plates for your guests to use to make their spring rolls.
• Stir-fried shrimp, thinly sliced or baked, thin sliced tofu
• Red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into long, thin strips
• Shredded carrots
• Bean sprouts
• Sugar snap peas, blanched in boiling water, drained, and sliced on a diagonal into thin strips
• Snow peas, sliced on a diagonal into thin strips
• Sweet corn, preferably grilled or broiled (for a smoky flavor) and sliced off the cob
• Toasted sesame seeds
• Scallions or chives, trimmed and sliced on the bias
• Hot sauce (I love Lan Chi chili pastes + Sriracha, rooster sauce duh?)
• Fresh whole basil leaves
• Fresh whole cilantro leaves
Don’t forget to indulge in my favorite, sinful, hot sauce Lan Chi ‘s Garlic + Chili Paste, it speaks volumes in regards to versatility. I use it for my spring rolls, pan sear my shrimp with it, smother it on to my noodles, pho and my life. Happy spring-rolling!