Making spring rolls at home has become such second nature to us, that I was a little caught off guard recently. A friend – who’s no slouch in the kitchen, herself – expressed surprise at the idea of making homemade spring rolls.
… and then I remembered the first time I’d tried to make them. The rice paper was so thin and fragile, and I would break/rip it no matter what I did. Extremely frustrating experience, and it turned out the ugliest, least coherent rolls I’ve ever seen in my life.
That only lasted for one attempt, though. We went to a favorite Vietnamese restaurant shortly after that, and THAT is where I learned the secret. I asked the waiter what the difference was between their thick, stable rice paper spring roll wrappers, and the incredibly thin crap I was buying in the grocery store.
The answer? They used the exact same stuff I did.. but a double thickness of it!
From that day onward, spring rolls haven’t been a mystery or a frustration to us… and we can easily enjoy them at home!
Here’s hoping that the “secret” helps you as much as it did us!
Curried Shrimp Spring Rolls
1 package rice vermicelli
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
1 carrot, peeled
1 package bean sprouts
Green onions, sliced in half lengthwise (optional)
1/2 lb raw shrimp, shells and tails removed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 – 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1 package rice paper spring roll wrappers
Boil rice vermincelli for a few minutes, remove from heat and allow to soften to desired texture. Drain and allow to cool.
Mix cilantro and mint together, place in a small bowl.
Use a vegetable peeler to process the carrot down into long, thin strips. Place on a plate or work surface, along with bean sprouts and green onions. Set aside.
In a fry pan, saute shrimp in olive oil until shrimp is almost fully cooked. Sprinkle with curry and hot peppers, season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute until fully cooked, remove from heat.
Fill a large bowl with very hot water. Submerge one sheet of rice paper, then immediately submerge another one right on top of it. Wait 3 seconds, remove both sheets from water together, and smooth out on your clean work surface. While smoothing rice sheets out, be sure to push excess water out from between the sheets as you go.
Arrange a small handful of well drained, cooled vermicelli across the middle of the rice paper wrappers, leaving a couple of inches of wrapper on either end of the vermicelli pile.
Top with a small amount of bean sprouts
Sprinkle a little mint/cilantro mix over the bean sprouts, top with carrot pieces and shrimp.
Fold about 1/2 of the wrapper over the pile of filling, pulling it tightly against it. Fold one of the sides up over that fold.
Fold the other side over.
Holding the rice wrapper tightly against the filling, press to squeeze out any air that could be in with the filling, then tightly roll up the spring roll.
Repeat as necessary, serve with fish sauce.