These Vietnamese spring rolls are fresh, not fried! They’re the perfect party appetizer or light meal. The peanut sauce sends them over the top. Recipe yields 8 spring rolls.
2 ounces rice vermicelli or maifun brown rice noodles*
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup torn butter lettuce, ribs removed
1 cup very thinly sliced red cabbage
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or sliced into strips with a julienne peeler
2 Persian (mini) cucumbers or 1 small cucumber, thinly sliced or sliced into strips with a julienne peeler
2 medium jalapeños, ribs and seeds removed, thinly sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced green onions
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
8 sheets rice paper (spring roll wrappers)
⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed
To make the spring rolls: Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles just until al dente, according to package directions. Drain, rinse them under cool water, and return them to the pot. Off the heat, toss the noodles with the sesame oil and salt, and set aside.
Fill a shallow pan (a pie pan or 9″ round cake pan works great) with an inch of water. Fold a lint-free tea towel in half and place it next to the dish. Make sure your prepared fillings are within reach. Combine the green onion, cilantro and mint in a small bowl, and stir.
Place one rice paper in the water and let it rest for about 20 seconds, give or take. You’ll learn to go by feel here—wait until the sheet is pliable but not super floppy. Carefully lay it flat on the towel.
Leaving about 1 inch of open rice paper around the edges, cover the lower third of the paper with a few pieces of butter lettuce, followed by a small handful of rice noodles, some cabbage, and a few strips of carrot, cucumber and jalapeño. Sprinkle generously with the herb mix.
Fold the lower edge up over the fillings, rolling upward just until the filling is compactly enclosed. Fold over the short sides like you would to make a burrito. Lastly, roll it up. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
To make the peanut sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, rice vinegar, tamari, honey, sesame oil, and garlic. Whisk in 2 to 3 tablespoons water, as needed to make a super creamy but dip-able sauce.
Serve the spring rolls with peanut sauce on the side. You can serve them whole, or sliced in half on the diagonal with a sharp chef’s knife
*NOODLE NOTE: I always opt for whole grains when I can, so I used Annie Chun’s brand of maifun brown rice noodles. I found them with the Asian ingredients at Whole Foods.
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Be sure to use certified gluten free noodles and tamari (not soy sauce, which typically contains gluten).
MAKE IT VEGAN: Use maple syrup instead of honey.
MAKE IT PEANUT FREE: Substitute almond butter (if not avoiding nuts altogether) or sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter.
PREPARE IN ADVANCE: You can definitely mix together the peanut sauce in advance. You can also prepare the veggies several hours or up to 1 day in advance, and store them in an air-tight container (they will lose freshness with time). The spring roll wrappers tend to dry out with time, so spring rolls are best assembled within an hour of serving.