Spring rolls are a popular Thai appetizer that are either fried or fresh and can be filled with a variety of proteins and vegetables. The fresh version is simple to make and is a healthy lunch or snack. They don't require any cooking and call for just rice paper and the desired fillings. Before using, the dried rice wrappers need to be softened in water so they are easy to fold.
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Gather the Ingredients
To make fresh spring rolls from scratch, you need a package of large dried rice wrappers (also known as "rice paper"). These can be found in the Asian section of the grocery store, health food and Asian markets, and online.
For the filling, you can choose whatever protein you prefer: Cooked shrimp, chicken, and pork work best (the chicken and pork should be shredded). Vegetarians can substitute baked tofu or seitan. Have on hand separate bowls of vegetables and herbs, such as coriander leaves, sweet basil, cucumber sticks, grated carrots, and bean sprouts. The herb leaves and bean sprouts can be left whole, but the vegetables should be cut into thin pieces.
You'll also need a sauce to add moisture and enhance the flavor; this can be as simple as fish sauce or soy sauce, or a mixture of the two along with rice vinegar and brown sugar.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
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Fill a Bowl With Hot Water
Choose a bowl large enough to hold a rice paper wrapper and fill half way with hot water (but not scalding, as you will have to dip your fingers in it). Place the bowl and rice wrappers on a clean working surface such as a cutting board.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
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Soften the Rice Wrappers
Take out one of the rice wrappers and place it in the bowl of hot water. You may have to gently press the wrapper down into the water to submerge it. Leave it in the water for just a few seconds (2 to 4) and then move it to the clean work surface; the rice paper will continue to soften as it sits. Make sure not to leave it in the water too long or else the rice paper will become soggy and tear as you fold it. If you find that the wrappers are sticky, try soaking them in cold water instead of hot.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
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Add the Filling
Working horizontally, place slices of the protein on the left side of the wrapper. Now layer the vegetables and herbs, making sure not to pile on too much or else the wrapper will rip open when folded. Drizzle with a little bit of sauce.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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Fold Over Bottom of Rice Paper
Begin the roll by folding the bottom portion of rice paper over the ingredients.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
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Lift Side of Wrapper and Fold Over
Continue by lifting the right side of the wrapper and fold it over the ingredients.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
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Complete the Roll
To finish the roll, fold the top side down, or roll the spring roll forward until at the end of the rice paper. Try to keep your folding/rolling as tight as possible. To secure the roll, simply dip your fingers in a little water and wet the end flap, then press to seal. This is an "open" type of fresh roll where one end isn't enclosed in the rice paper.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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Serve With Dipping Sauce(s)
For a pretty presentation, you can place the fresh spring rolls upright in a bowl (like a bouquet), or lay them flat on a platter. Serve with hoisin sauce and/or Thai sweet chili sauce, or Thai peanut sauce.