Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fresh spring rolls

Breakfast: Oatmeal (porridge if you’re British!) with banana and honey

Lunch: Home-made cream of mushroom soup

Dinner: Fresh spring rolls, and lots of them!

For the first time in ages I had porridge today, and remembered that I don’t like the big fat oats you get from Quaker, but they’re bought now, and I will eat them! No waste in this household!

For years I’ve been a fan of oatmeal for breakfast as it gives you heaps of energy, sees you through til lunch time no problems, and in a Canadian winter, gives you some much needed “central heating”. Any runner (which I am most definitely not) will extol its virtues over and over again. I remember scoffing down a bowl of porridge the size of my own head at 6am before I struggled through the Yonge Street 10k Run with Tom Anderson, and it fuelled me the whole way.

I made way too many vermicelli last night (slightly on purpose) so today I bounded off to the Asian grocery across from our apartment to pick up some rice paper so I could use them up in my favourite way. I love spring rolls but I can never eat more than 2 at a restaurant without feeling bad and trying to ignore the mounting grease on my fingers. I had never even thought about making fresh spring rolls until I attended May Kaidee’s vegetarian cooking course in Bangkok, and found out that with these treats no deep fryer is necessary! They’re super simple and taste both fresh and filing; perfect for spring.

You’ll need:
            rice paper
            cooked vermicelli noodles
            fresh coriander (cilantro if you’re North American!)
one kind of grated or thin veggies; grated carrot works really well, as does baby corn, very thinly sliced red peppers or sliced chestnuts (available tinned)
            sweet chili sauce for dipping

To ready the rice paper:
            Fill a frying pan with cold water
            Submerge 2 rice papers in the water
Move them around slightly with your fingertips until they are moist; it only takes a minute or so
Quickly but gently lift one paper out and place in into a sheet of kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
Put another kitchen paper / tea towel on top of it
Quickly and gently lift the other out and place on top
Put one more kitchen paper / tea towel on top of that and press down slightly
After a few seconds they’re ready to be used
To roll:
Gently lift the first paper and put it flat onto a plate. It will be very keen to stick to both you and itself so its best to do this as quickly as possible!
Place some vermicelli slightly in the top half of the paper, in the centre
Place a small amount of beansprouts, veggies and coriander on top of the noodles
Lift the top of the paper and fold it to just over the noodle pile
Fold in both sides; they will stick to the top of the other paper
You should now have a sort of envelope of foods with a long bit extending down
Grab the paper-wrapped food pile and roll it into the rest of the paper. This will create your roll, as the paper will stick to itself.
Set aside and repeat for the other paper
Voila! Dip and enjoy!

Be sure to wrap as tightly as you can. Your first roll will probably be a nightmare but after that you’ll have the hang of it! I recommend only doing 2 rice papers at once, as they tend to get too wet and fall apart if they’re left any longer.

You can also deep fry these; Putin suggested it and we tried it tonight. When fried in a few centimeters of hot oil they crisp up and taste much like restaurant fried spring rolls, except not as brown and obviously without any additional batter. They’re good either way, but I much prefer the fresh ones!

Huge props to both May Kaidee for teaching me how to do these originally, and to my fantastic chef friend Chris Leidy for reminding me how to wet rice paper and teaching me the proper way to roll. Chris works at a great restaurant in Melbourne and outside of work, makes some absolutely unbelievable Mexican-inspired foods. I was lucky enough to spend xmas with him once and it took me about a week to recover from the food coma he put me in (as well as a fairly seriously hangover). Thanks Chris!


  1. Made these the other night, got the wrapping right! Woo :)

  2. Wicked!! It's easy once you know how!!