These days I'm really liking the spring rolls that have started popping up next to the ready-made sushi in supermarkets. They are filled with such fresh ingredients as cucumber and lettuce, making them super low-calorie and low fat -- the diet-conscious person's answer to egg rolls. Plus, they're fun to eat. (I'm a sucker for a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.)
But it pains me to spend $5 on something I'm sure I could make at home. So yesterday, I decided to give spring rolls a whirl.
I'd never worked with rice paper before and wasn't sure what to expect. I found it at Saraga, an Asian market on the east side of Bloomington. One 12-ounce package of 8-inch sheets -- they were available in three sizes, and they are dried -- cost me $1.99. That's a steal. There were 43 sheets in all, and I used two for my lunch.
I used avocado, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, cilantro, green onions, and shrimp in my spring rolls, but you can substitute tofu for the shrimp, add sprouts or bell peppers, mint... anything you want, really. They would even be good with a little wasabi inside the wrap.
Next time I make these, I am going to use marinated chicken breast slices, cucumber, cilantro, rice noodles, peanuts, and a plum sauce for dipping. Yum!
Spring rolls (makes 4 rolls)
4 eight-inch (medium) sheets of rice paper
1 medium cucumber, cut in julienne strips (that's roughly matchstick-size)
about 20 cilantro leaves, separated
1 small carrot, cut in julienne strips
16 cooked shrimp
1/2 avocado, sliced
4 leaves of lettuce, chopped into big pieces
4 green onions, halved
1.) Drop a sheet of rice paper into lukewarm water. I filled a rimmed baking sheet with water and put the sheet in for about 15 seconds. The sheet should be pliable, but not too fragile, or it will tear easily. You can work around very small holes, though.
2.) Put the paper on a large plate. Line a quarter of the filling ingredients in the middle of the paper, stretching almost totally across it. Whatever you put on the bottom will show through the top of the roll, so if you care how it looks, keep that in mind. (See the photo: I put shrimp and cilantro on first.)
3.) Fold the wrap around the filling, first rolls up the bottom so it covers the ingredients, then folding in the sides, then continuing to roll the wrap, so it's completely covered. Repeat with the other sheets of rice paper.
Cut rolls in half and serve with a side of sweet chili sauce and a cup of miso soup.