Spring rolls have always intimidated me. Well, making them - eating them has never been a problem. Something about actually having to roll various ingredients together just scared me away. And rice paper, that stuff is just a disaster waiting to happen. Or so I wrongly thought. After trying these, I'm not sure why I was so afraid. They're ridiculously easy to make once you get past all the vegetable chopping. (So. Much. Chopping.) And they're completely customizable, leaving you free to put in whatever veggies you like. I made these vegetarian, but shrimp or chicken is fantastic in here as well.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls:
1 large carrot
1 large cucumber
1 cup bean sprouts
sprigs of: cilantro, basil, and mint
optional - rice vinegar or sesame oil
First things first - cut up all the veggies. I used a vegetable peeler to create long strips of the carrot and cucumber (easier to fit in the wrapping), and just cut the radishes and green onions. Wash the raw bean sprouts and leave as is.
Now the slightly tricky part. Take a frying pan and fill it with lukewarm water. Working with one sheet at a time, dip the rice paper into the pan until it is completely submerged. You only want to leave it in for a few seconds. The paper will still feel pliable and thick, but it will become soft and more gelatinous as it sits while you put in the filling. Once it's been dipped in the water, lay it on a flat working surface. I used a clean kitchen towel since apparently the rice paper will stick to wooden cutting boards.
Then add the vegetables and herbs to one half of the paper. Gently fold over the paper, tuck the sides in, and continue rolling. The rice paper will be sticky and should stay rolled if you press it together gently. This is actually way easier than I thought it would be.
For a bit of extra flavor, you can put a few drops of rice vinegar or sesame oil on the vegetables before you roll them up, but these are fantastic on their own. I'd recommend a dipping sauce though - either peanut sauce or plum sauce is amazing.
So there you go, a bit labor intensive, but ultimately waaaay easier than they look!