Hello Wonderful Gluten-Fearing People!
Today I thought I would share an all-time favourite and fun-to-make recipe of mine: spring rolls! It’s spring here in Switzerland, and rice paper spring rolls are just always a joy to make.
Important: Rice paper is a stiff, thin “paper” you can buy in almost any Asian store. You’ll want to get 100% rice-based roll paper, ideally from a country where the staple is rice (so the rice mills are not cross-contaminated with wheat flour or oat flour or something similar). Think Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam or Malaysia. Sometimes the rice paper can contain tapoica, which is fine. Just check and double check the ingredients. Ask the store owner if you can.
This dish is a great starter and works really well when entertaining guests. It’s easy to prepare, easy to eat, and brings to mind the freshness of spring – good vibes!
Each roll is chewy and unique in taste, because it’s likely got a unique balance of veggies in it. Guaranteed to please!
- 10 pieces of rice paper (see note above; square or round shape are both fine!)
- Hot water (doesn’t have to be boiling – say 50-70 degrees Celsius or so)
- Any veggies you have on hand, sliced thinly. Ones that work well: carrots, zucchini, cucumber, red cabbage, mushrooms, tofu, tempeh. Very “wet” veggies, such as tomatoes, don’t work so well. Neither do veggies high in starch, such as potatoes.
- Peanuts, if you like them (salted or unsalted are fine, but please check the packaging to make sure they are gluten-free!) (optional)
- Scallions/leeks/onions, lightly sauteed (optional)
For the dipping sauce:
- 4 tablespoons of peanut butter (ideal is unsweetened, but both will work! Check the bottle to ensure it is gluten-free)
- 4 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey or agave or molasses (or dissolved sugar)
- 4 tablespoons of tamari soy sauce (Important: use organic and gluten-free varieties only! I like brands with as few ingredients as possible!)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar)
- 3 cloves of garlic, cut up in small slices (for brewing)
- Half a piece of ginger, also cut up in small slices (for brewing)
- A little bit of chilli powder, cut fresh chillies, or chilli sauce to spice things up (optional)
1. Prepare all your veggies – cut them up in thin slices and lay them out in a conveyor-belt set-up. This will make rolling easier later on.
2. You can use the veggies raw, or, if you prefer, you can lightly stir-fry some of them. Scallions, mushrooms, tofu, broccoli, and cabbage tastes better (to me!) when lightly stir-fried. Don’t overdo the seasoning – only a little salt if you must! You’ll have a beautiful dipping sauce later.
3. Prepare the rolling process by heating up some water and putting it in a flat, wide dish, like a baking tray. Water doesn’t have to be super hot – approximately 50-70 degrees Celsius is fine.
4. Now the fun part! Wet each sheet of rice paper – through the water bath – and lay it on a flat surface (like a smooth, glass plate). The paper doesn’t have to be super soft at this point. If it is starting to rip or sticking to itself, you are waiting too long in the water or wetting it too thoroughly. You’ll just want to make sure it is wet all the way through, and get on to your business of rolling. The water will spread out and keep the paper soft over time.
5. When the rice paper is on your flat surface, add a little bit of your cut veggies to the center of the rice paper. If you have peanuts, you can add a few pieces as well. Don’t over0stuff the roll, or your paper will break or leak!
6. Fold the sides of the paper in, and then roll up the whole paper. Do a quick check to ensure the paper hasn’t broken and nothing is falling out.
7. Keep doing that until all your veggies are used up!
8. For the sauce: Infuse the soy sauce (tamari) by heating it up to medium heat in a small sauce pan with the garlic and ginger. If you want it spicy, add the cut fresh chillies to the mix. Don’t boil the soy sauce! As soon as the soy sauce starts bubbling in the pan, turn off the heat and remove from the stove to let it cool down for about 5 minutes.
9. After those 5 minutes, strain out (or remove) the garlic and ginger (and chillies). If you are cooking something else, you can always use the delicious soy-infused garlic and ginger in it. But for our purposes, take out the garlic and ginger from the liquid. Add the peanut butter, vinegar, and maple syrup and stir until a thick paste forms. If you want to make it spicy, you can add a dash of chilli powder or chilli sauce.
10. Taste it! Adjust it to your taste. I often find I need to add more maple syrup.
11. Pour the mixture in a small, shallow container. This will be your dipping container. If you want, you can make several versions of the dipping sauce for fun. A good trio: plain soy sauce (tamari), a spicy sauce, and a medium peanut sauce.
Sometimes, I add a bit of the sauce right into the rice paper roll… along with a few peanuts for a little extra crunch! But you always want extra sauce for dipping. Because peanut sauce is amazing!
You can even use the same method rice paper wrap method to creatively present your left-overs. Works well when wrapping up any stir-fried or roasted veggie left-overs.
Till the next time… wrap it up, folks!