Rainbow Fresh Spring Rolls

Ingredients for a colorful fresh spring roll.

Rice paper wraps filled with raw vegetables.

Rice paper wraps filled with raw vegetables.

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I love Vietnamese fresh spring rolls, also known as summer rolls.  Rice paper wraps offer another gluten free wrap option.  Be sure to double check the ingredient list as not every rice paper wrap is gluten free if you are looking for this option.

Just like nori for making sushi maki, rice paper wrap can be used to roll up anything you can think of.  My kids like to make their own and they can get very creative with it;  imagine a fresh fruit coulis drizzled over it—blueberry to be precise.  I am kindly reminded by them that I a missing a spectrum of blues, indigos, and violets for it to called a rainbow.

Here's a blend of my veggie fruit wrap.  It's a light starter and a pretty bite size treat for everyone.

Rainbow Rolls

INGREDIENTS

• 1 carrot
• 1 red pepper
• 1 mango
• 1 cucumber
• 1 avocado
• A handful of mint leaves
• Rice paper , 22 cm

PREPARATION

Cut and slice your vegetables into thin strips.   Place them into separate bowls.

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare a pan filled with a half inch of warm water.    Take a piece of rice paper and place it in the pan of water, flipping it quickly so that both sides are wet and then place it on a flat work space (I use a silicone or wooden chopping board).  Use your fingers to rub in the water and to flatten out the rice paper.

Place your sliced vegetables about a a third up of the rice paper and leaving an inch and a half on the sides.  Then line up two or three pieces of mint leaves next to it and another line of avocado so that you will have 3 rows neatly lined up next to each other. 

Start from the bottom and roll up into your first line of vegetables, tuck in the sides of the rice paper and continue to roll up.

Using a sharp knife cut the rolls in half and then in thirds.  Line them up on a tray and serve immediately.  You can also plastic wrap it and place it in the fridge to serve later.

NOTE

You don't want your rice paper to be too wet otherwise it will tear. Give it a give dip on both sides and quickly take it out as it will continue to absorb the water once it is placed on your flat work space.

Practice makes perfect.  Keep your rolls tight when rolling and make sure not to overstuff your rolls. 





 

 

Glass Noodle Salad

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I recall visting Thai friends on lazy, sweltering afternoons in their homes and finding their extended family members under the influence of indolent heat, sprawled out on timeworn floors of the veranda supported by equally timeworn stilts, peacefully resting in the shade.  It made me want to do the same, and I was welcome to lay out my sarong and find a spot.  A comfortable position would soon be found; I would find myself sitting or laying there happy to have escaped the sun rays, dust billows from back country roads, and scooter vibrations, relishing the shade and tranquility until a platter of fresh herbs and vegetables would arrive with some nam phrik, a chili shrimp paste based sauce, to dip into.  Slowly, the family members would wake and sounds of squeaks and creaks from the wooden planks and shuffling would stir as they gathered around the platter to share this afternoon snack.  As I bit into this fresh, crisp combination of raw herb and vegetable dipped into nam phrik on this hot and lazy, sultry day my senses had been awakened.

While eating my way through Thailand in the early 90's, my palate received an education in appreciation of fresh herbs and raw vegetables.   A habit I picked up is adding fresh herbs (herbs! herbs! herbs!) to almost everything.  I love that it simply livens any plate up and adds subtle or bursts of flavor to it.   In this glass noodle dish, be very generous with your herbs. 

Glass Noodle Salad

INGREDIENTS//serves 8-10

• 500 grams cellophane noodles (a.k.a vermicelli bean thread, glass, and mung bean noodles)
• 7 whole carrots, raw and julienned
• 250 grams snowpeas, raw and julienned
• 2 celery branches (optional), raw and julienned
• 1-2 bunches of fresh coriander
• Bunch of fresh mint

Dressing

• 1 shallot, minced
• 2 cloves garlic, crushed
• A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
• A thumb's length of lemongrass (optional), slit lengthwise and bruised slightly
• 2 tablespoons or 50 grams palm sugar or regular sugar
• 1/2 cup sushi vinegar
• 2 tablesoons soy sauce or tamari sauce (gluten-free)
• 1 tablespoon Sriracha
• 4 tablespoons sesame oil
• 2 whole lime
• 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce or Vietnamnese vegetarian fish sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

Bring a big pot of water to boil and then turn it off.  

Add the noodles in the boiled water for 5-10 minutes.  Drain.  Then run under cool water and drain again.  The noodles will look white and translucent.  Transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

Add some sesame oil to the noodles to keep them from sticking. 

Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut through the noodles to shorten their length.  Leave on the side and begin to prepare the vegetables. 

Combine all your prepared raw vegetables in a medium mixing bowl and set it aside.

Rinse and dry your coriander and mint.  Tear the coriander leaves and the mint leaves off their stems or simply use your kitchen shears and trim the herbs into a bowl. 

Combine your noodles and vegetables.  Add the dressing. 

Toss together, add the herbs, and toss again.

This is a great dish to prepare in advance.  I find the longer the noodles and vegetables sit in the dressing, the more flavor it soaks up.

DRESSING

In a measuring cup add the shallot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and palm sugar. 

Pour in the sushi vinegar, add the tamari (or soy sauce), the Sriracha, sesame oil and the juice of the whole limes.   Stir until all the ingredients are mixed in together.  (If you don't mind bits and pieces of the shallot, garlic and ginger—this is the way I do it by hand.  Otherwise, throw everything into a blender although you will have pulp from the ginger so you'll have to pass it through a strainer).

If you use lemongrass, let the dressing stand (the longer the better—for at least an hour) until the flavor of the lemongrass infuses into the dressing.  Then discard the lemongrass and mix the dressing in with the noodles in the mixing bowl.  Add the vegetables and herbs and toss until everything is coated with the dressing.

NOTE

You can switch your vegetables up between carrots, beansprouts, snow peas, celery and whatever other vegetable you imagine to go along with it.  My favorite combo is with carrots and snowpeas.  You can also top it off with some shrimp or morsels of chicken.