In this world without gluten (wheat, barley, rye, etc.), eggs, cow dairy, soy, tomatoes, almonds, and other assorted foods, it sometimes feels like a miracle to find something I can still eat without modification. So I was really thrilled when my husband handed me a package of regular old rice paper wrappers in the store and declared them Sally-friendly. I realized I could make delicious fresh spring rolls (also known as summer rolls) in my kitchen at home. Three great blog posts (one at Book of Yum, one at Gluten-Free Bay, and one at Gluten Free Gobsmacked) convinced me that I, too, could be successful at making fresh spring rolls at home. Last night, I proceeded to go a little crazy.
An hour or so after I started, when I was finished chopping and food-processing and frying, this was the array of fillings surrounding me:
organic maple bacon
peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples
minced crystallized ginger
shredded Asian cabbage
matchstick yellow squash
chopped green onion
boiled rice noodles (from two packs of ramen–I just didn’t add the oil and seasoning)
In addition to the fillings, I had purchased three gluten-free, soy-free, etc. sauces: a Thai peanut sauce, an Asian raspberry sauce, and a Thai sweet chili sauce. Yum. (The sauce makes the meal, you know.)
Keep in mind, I was only cooking for two people–two people! I realized we had to call in reinforcements, so we invited my best friend and her husband over to eat at the last minute.
To prepare a summer roll, I dunked the piece of rice paper into bathwater-hot water that was in a wide, shallow bowl. The rice paper needed to be immersed without bending, I quickly learned. As a piece started to soften (8-15 seconds later), I picked it out while it was still somewhat firm and laid it on a clean dishtowel—the paper can stick to other surfaces. I decided which fillings I wanted to add to it and sprinkled them in a line approximately in the center of the roll. (When I started out, I was putting too much filling in, and the rolls couldn’t close up tightly at all, but I got the hang of it over time.) After sprinkling on fillings, I flipped down the top and bottom edges and carefully rolled up the roll to close. Then I set it on a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet. I am not the most graceful person in the world, but with a light hand, it really wasn’t hard to do.
When I added herbs to the rolls, I put the herbs in a separate line, facing the outside of the wrapper, so that when I rolled the wrapper up, the herbs sat outside the main filling mix. Look at the other blogs I mentioned for more in-depth explanations.
I think these were the overall favorite filling combinations:
maple bacon (I’d chop it into small pieces next time), apples, cabbage, and crystallized ginger
shrimp, mango, noodles, carrots, cucumber, cashews, mint, and basil
carrots, noodles, zucchini, crystallized ginger, and cashews
Though the others gobbled them up, I wasn’t a huge fan of the shrimp rolls. The consistency of the soft, sticky rolls with the soft, slightly squishy shrimp–it just didn’t work for me. But I loved the others.
We ate them all.
Next time I make them, I’m pondering how to fill them with entirely seasonal fall foods. Any suggested combinations?