Traditional Vietnamese spring rolls, sometimes called summer rolls, or salad rolls, are easy to make and refreshingly healthy and light. Served with your favorite dipping sauce they make for a fun appetizer or lunch. This version, vegan and gluten free is made with avocado, tofu and daikon.
The wonderful thing about fresh springs rolls is you can be creative and include any veggies you like or have on hand. For me, this meant going thru my fridge and capturing stray produce that needed using up.
Cucumber, Carrot, Mache lettuce, mint, scallions, bell pepper, avocado and diakon. I also found some sprouted tofu.
Spring rolls wrappers, also called "rice paper" are made from rice flour. It's sold in thin dry round clear sheets of varying sizes. The first time I saw rice paper in the package, I had serious doubts that it could be transformed into something soft and pliable. And for this reason- its transformational magical quality, this would be a fun recipe to make with kids who enjoy being in the kitchen.
You can find rice paper in most grocery stores in the Asian food isle. Make sure to check the package carefully for cracks or splits in the paper. I usually buy 8 1/2 inch rounds.
To start, prep your veggies by cutting all into long thin strips.
For those not familiar with daikon, it is basically a large white radish in the shape of a giant white carrot. It has a milder peppery taste compared to a regular radish. Daikon is known for its detoxing qualities and has an enjoyable crunch, adding good texture.
To give the spring rolls a little more heartiness, you could add avocado or tofu. Or even better, both!
An easy way to slice avocado is to leave it in the skin, slice with sharp paring knife, being careful not to go thru the skin. Then scoop out the slices with a large spoon.
The tofu slices were lightly drizzled with a little GF soy sauce. Normally, I prefer to bake the tofu in a quick marinade (1/4 C soy Sauce, 2 T sesame oil and 1 tsp sugar) on a sheet pan in a 400 F oven, until they are a little crispy, then refrigerate. But today I did not plan ahead, so instead, I gave them a quick drizzle of soy sauce. Baking the tofu really does enhance the flavor and texture ....and I recommend it if you have the time.
Once all your veggies are prepped, clear a work space for yourself and get a clean smooth dish town. Get it wet and wring out the excess water, and place it down on your work surface.
In these photos, I am not using the dish towel because it was too distracting in the photographs, but trust me, it works a whole lot better if you use the dish towel method. It keeps your rice paper from getting too wet or too dry and somehow makes it easier to wrap them up tighter.
Fill a large bowl with cold water.
Place 2-3 spring roll wrappers in the water, one at a time and let sit until they become just softened ...about 30 seconds to one minute. If you let them sit too long in the water they will become too soft and will break easily.
Pull the rice paper out of the bowl carefully and place on your damp dish towel. If you have a tear in the rice paper, put the tear towards you. You may be able to salvage it.
Place your fillings in the middle and wrap up tight like a snug little burrito.
Let them sit on their seam for just a minute and they should seal nicely.
With a large sharp knife, cut in half or into bite sized pieces. Cutting them diagonally is a good look too.
You can make these ahead and store them in your fridge (leave them whole) in a baking dish layering them with wet paper towels and covering well with plastic wrap. Cut before serving.
To serve, place on a white plate or platter and serve with your favorite dipping sauce. While in Vietnam, spring rolls were tradionally served with Nước chấm, a sauce made with fish sauce, lime, sugar and chili peppers. To me, its delicious. See the recipe below.
You could serve it with a peanut sauce, hoisin sauce or a Sweet Chili Sauce, which I love.
Experiment with different herbs like mint, chive, basil and cilantro. Try using different greens like arugula, watercress or spinach. Use different veggies...bell pepper, cabbage, jicama, anything you can think of! Try different fillings like... rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, sauted mushrooms, or even smoked salmon.
When catering events where spring rolls are served as an appetizer, a fun way to display them is to use English cucumbers as serving vessels. Cut rounds out with a small cookie cutter and place the spring rolls in upright.
Spring Roll Recipe
- 8-10 spring roll wrappers (8 1/2 inch in diameter)
- 1 cucumber - cut into strips
- 1 diakon radish cut into strips
- 12 oz tofu- cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 2 cups mache, arugula or salad greens
- 1/4 cup chopped mint,basil, cilantro or combination of any
- 1 red bell pepper or carrot cut into strips
- 1 avocado, sliced
Nước Chấm Recipe
- 3 tbsp. water
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- slices of bird’s eye / Thai chilies