The ingredients are pretty basic. Veggies, fresh herbs, rice noodles (thin vermicelli), rice paper, and a little seasoned rice vinegar. Some standard veggies I like to use are carrots, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, scallions, and bean sprouts. I really like using mint, basil, and cilantro as my fresh herbs. I've also tried dill and I've liked that very much too. I usually just choose one type of herb to add in each roll. Other ingredients that are tasty in spring rolls are shrimp, tofu, and mango. Because rice paper and rice noodles are a staple at my house, and since I always have some sort of veggies and fresh herbs in the fridge, I've made all sorts of combinations with both small and large amounts of ingredients. All versions are delicious and refreshing!
Make your spring rolls:
- Boil some water for the noodles.
- Begin washing, chopping/grating up your veggies. Set the prepared veggies aside, layed out on a plate or cutting board, for easy access when it's time to build the rolls.
- Meanwhile, when the water has boiled, cook the noodles according to the package. Vermicelli doesn't take too long to cook, and it gets gummy if it cooks too long, so keep an eye on it.
- After the noodles have cooked, drain and rinse them, and then toss them in some seasoned rice vinegar. Taste as you season the noodles. They should have a subtle little tang, but not an overwhelming taste of vinegar.
- Wash and dry the fresh herbs. Remove the leaves from the stems, and set aside. Cilantro can remain in tact without removing the leaves from the stems. Just give the bottoms of the cilantro stems a nice chop so the majority of the plant you will be using is the leaves, rather than the stems. Set the prepared herbs aside.
- Create a spring roll station. Put out one large bowl of warm to hot water, the rice paper, the noodles, the veggies, and the herbs. Lay out a large plate or cutting board for working, and another plate or tray for the completed spring rolls.
- Dip one sheet of rice paper in the warm water until it softens. It doesn't have to be completely soft, because as you fill it, it will continue to become bendable.
- Lay out the softened rice paper on your work space, and begin filling it with a selection of ingredients.
- Fold the long edge of the rice paper over the filling, and then fold in the two short ends of the rice paper. Roll the rice paper completely around the filling. Try to hold onto the filling in the rice paper as you roll, keeping the roll as tight as possible.
- Place the completed spring rolls on a plate or tray.
Spring rolls are also fun to make with others. If you're having guests over to eat, but you don't feel like spending a lot of time preparing food, just prep the main ingredients, set everything out, and invite your friends to create their own spring rolls.
The rolls don't keep well for long periods of time because the rice paper dries out. If you want to save some for leftovers, wrap them in plastic or wax paper. Before you eat rolls that have been in the fridge, give them a few hours to soften up again once out of the fridge. Sometimes I like to just keep all of my ingredients, the pre-cut veggies, washed herbs, and seasoned noodles in the fridge, and just make up a few fresh rolls at a time, as I crave them.
Yum! Such good food for a hot day!