Mary...my friend....if you are reading this....I actually made that recipe as it was written first.....and it was terrible. (Mary recently called my attention to the fact that I seem to ALWAYS change the recipes!)
So when this recipe turned out terrible, I did what I usually do with recipes from the beginning and changed it up to what I think would have worked better.....and it didn't help. No matter what I added to it, I just couldn't get the taste right on it. David ate it and said it wasn't that bad; but I hated it. Sometimes new recipes are just failures. What can I say!
Dinner last night was a completely different story. I have been wanting to make these and tell you about them for quite some time now. It is, by far, one of my favorite meals and one of the freshest and healthiest dishes that I make. Perfect choice to follow that crazy good meal that we had for Valentine's Day.
Spring Rolls....sometimes called Summer Rolls....depending on which cuisine they are representing are sometimes seen on menus fresh and sometimes you see them fried. While I like both of them, my most favorite ones are the fresh ones. This is the version that I make for my family.
I start out with rice paper. I was able to pick these up at a regular supermarket in Houston with the other Asian foods. If you are fortunate enough to have an Asian market nearby, you can definitely find them there.
These are Bean Threads. They are so interesting when you take them out of the package. They are like dried ramen noodles all curled up into a nest. You should be able to find these with the other Asian foods in your regular supermarket.
Cover the bean threads with hot water and let them soak for a few minutes to soften them up. Once they have soaked, drain them and they are ready to be used in your rolls.
I like to use cilantro in my rolls. I know that there are some people out there who honestly don't like the taste of cilantro. That's hard for me to imagine as I think it's one of God's greatest gifts. If you don't like cilantro, you can use basil. I love recipes that you can change up depending on your personal tastes and what you have on-hand.
I always use cooked shrimp in my rolls. You can use tofu or make them just with vegetables. I am sure crab or cooked lobster would be great in them. Have fun with it and use what you like and have available.
My rolls are not complete without avocado. Again, in my opinion, this is another one of God's greatest gifts. I love how it can be used, like cilantro, in both Asian and Mexican cuisines. My favorites!
I was able to pick up this beautiful yellow pepper at the market the other day so I threw it in to tonight's rolls. I don't always use these; but it was a very nice addition.
I always use broccoli slaw in my rolls. I find it much more interesting than using cabbage and carrots. This is another time that you can use what you like or have on hand. I try to keep broccoli slaw around to use in stir frys or salads or for those times when I have to have a spring roll.
Last, but definitely not least, is the icing on the cake for me.....fresh chives. I have used green onions or scallions when I didn't have fresh chives; but in my opinion, they are just better with the chives. If you don't have any growing at your house, they are worth the splurge to buy them in the supermarket. They are just the crowning touch, I think
Once you've assembled the cast of characters, it's time to start rolling them up. The rice paper comes in sheets that feel like plastic. They have to be softened up before you can use them and just like the rice noodles, warm water will do the trick. My water was a little too hot when I started and it makes them hard to work with if your water is too hot. They are, also, hard to work with if your water is too cold. You are going for a WARM temp here. I heat my water up and pour it into a pie plate if I am using round paper. The paper comes in square sheets, as well, and if I am using those, I pour the warm water in a square baking dish. Once you have the water in the dish, it's time to run the rice paper through the water. I run the paper through the water like a car wash.....in one side and out the other.....
You need to have a flat place to lay the sheets when they come out of the water. I like to use a cutting board for that. It has plenty of space and is great to use for rolling. Lay the rice paper out as flat as possible.
The next step in preparing your Spring/Summer Rolls is really up to you. I'm a creature of habit so I add the cilantro first. Whatever you lay down on the roll first peeks through the transparent wrapper and I like to see the cilantro. Not only is it tasty but I think it is pretty, as well.
On top of the cilantro, I like to add the shrimp. To my knowledge, there aren't any "food rules" to creating these beauties so feel free to experiment and have fun. I just like the way the shrimp show through the wrapper when it is all rolled up. I didn't have very many shrimp left in the bag so I simply sliced them in half to make them go a bit further. I have to say that they rolled up a bit better being cut in half than they usually do. I have a tendency to put too much stuff inside of them and therefore have a problem rolling them up. I'm the same way with fajitas. I like a lot of different "stuff" inside! Don't judge...
Next up is the rice noodles. These are sooo interesting. They don't have any flavor, at all, really but I love the texture when combined with the other ingredients. They pretty much take on whatever flavor you add to them. I have been relying on the dipping sauce to give it flavor but I'm thinking that next time I might add some sort of flavor to the noodles themselves before I add them to the rolls. Looks like I will be making more of these soon to give that idea a try!
On top of the noodles, I like to add the broccoli slaw. I enjoy the crunchiness of adding this to the roll in raw form. I think some people give it a quick saute to soften it up and it's perfectly okay to do that. Remember, there are not any rules. You can add whatever veggies....in whatever form....to your rolls. That's the beauty of this dish! Let your creativity shine here!
Adding the bell pepper is a perfect example of using what is available and having fun with these rolls. I don't think I've ever added bell pepper to my rolls before; but, since I picked this beauty up at the market the other day, I thought the sweet flavor would be a nice addition to the roll. I generally add grated cucumber to my rolls; but since I didn't have one to use this time, the bell pepper took its place. I was right. It was delicious in there and so pretty!
My Spring/Summer Rolls are just not complete without the wonderful addition of creamy avocado.
Last...but definitely not least.....is the addition of fresh chives. If you can find garlic chives, they are even better than the plain ones. In Louisiana, they grew like weeds. They suffered the unintentional chop of the weed whacker on many occasions and continued to grow like crazy. They were picked up and moved across the street and replanted and still continued to grow like crazy. I am hoping that I can get a huge pot of them started here so that I always have a great supply of them. Buying the little containers of herbs in the supermarket hurts; but if that's the only way that I can get fresh herbs these days then so be it. I don't think I'm alone in saying......Come on summer!
Once you have assembled the cast of characters and they are all in their places, it is time to roll them up. These are rolled in much the same way that you roll egg rolls or burritos. Fold up the bottom of the roll...
Sometimes the chives go awry but don't worry about it. Just tuck them in the best you can and continue rolling.
Once you get the top and the bottom folded down, begin rolling the sides taking care to keep the everything tight as you are rolling them.
To me, these Spring/Summer rolls are really just a holder for the Padang sauce. I may or may not have a mild addiction to it.
If peanut sauce isn't your thing, this makes a pretty good sauce too.
Thanks so much for stopping in to see me today. I hope that wherever you are that you are having a wonderful day. The sun is shining outside and there's a hint of spring in the air. I'm going to go out and enjoy it.
This post is being linked up with Full Plate Thursday, Follow Friday - 40 and Over, Foodie Friday, Friday Potluck, and Seasonal Sundays.