Do you ever ask yourself why you love eating certain types of food? Maybe it is the cuisine you grew up eating or maybe it is a newly acquired taste that you just have to have in your diet. For me, and I am not sure why or where it happened, but I can not get enough of Asian foods. It does not matter…Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and everything in between. Stir Fry, Noodle Dishes, Sushi, Dim Sum, Satay…spicy, sweet, tangy, unique, new, authentic…I will try it, eat it, love it, and want to eat it again and again. So as a result of my obsession with Asian cuisine, I have had to learn how to make many of the dishes in my own kitchen. This way I can learn new techniques and not go broke eating out every day. And that is why I am sharing one of my most favorites dishes ever, Fresh Thai Spring Rolls With Peanut Dipping Sauce. And, yes, I could eat these every day of the week.
Now, I was born in Japan and lived there my first four years of life, so maybe that is where my passion for Asian food began. I think another reason was my mom. She was an amazing cook and always did such an awesome job of learning and cooking authentic dishes from the local culture where ever we lived. I remember her making many Japanese dishes that she learned from neighbors and friends. She was never intimidated in the kitchen and would try any recipe she could get her hands on. I think this was pretty brave considering she grew up on a small farm in the midwest where the cooking style was mostly meat, potatoes and other fresh goodies from the garden. She and my dad also encouraged us to try different types of cuisine which I think helped to really broaden our palate. I still remember the day my dad introduced me to sushi. A dream come true!
Alright, so let’s get into the recipe. You are probably thinking, just like I was, that you could never make these Fresh Thai Spring Rolls. I agree, they look pretty difficult, but once you get the hang of the wrapping technique, you will be cranking these out by the dozen. The beauty of the ingredients is that they are so fresh and light. You can change up the filling with whatever suits your taste buds. I chose to start with the classic ingredients of imitation crab or shrimp, green onions, carrots, cabbage, cucumber and topping it off with either cilantro or Thai basil leaves. But, what really makes this dish pop is the Peanut Dipping Sauce. When you combine the freshness of the Spring Roll with the creamy, spicy, tangy flavor of the dipping sauce, it is sheer Spring Roll heaven!
Ok, this is where I calm your nerves and answer your question about “how in the heck do you roll these things”? I know, that rice paper looks really flimsy and seems like it would fall apart in a heart beat. The true trick is figuring out how long you should soften the rice paper wrappers or “skin” as some of the packages say, for your Fresh Thai Spring Rolls. The wrappers come in packages of 20 or more, so there is room for error. You can lay the sheets, one at a time in a shallow pan of water for 30-60 seconds, until they reach the right softness, or some choose to spray them with water from a clean spray bottle to soften them. Either way works. You just have to be patient and work with the sheets one at a time.
Next, I am going to walk you through the rolling process. Once you have softened the wrapper with water, place it on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. First, for you ingredients, and I think this is super important. Lay a piece of your romaine or butter lettuce across the soft wrapper, about 1/3 of the way up from the side closest to you. This helps hold your ingredients in place while you fold it up and also catches any extra moisture from your filling ingredients. So, now you can line your other ingredients horizontally (side to side) on the lettuce, leaving about an inch on either side of the row of filling. The trick too is to not over fill the Spring Roll. Now, ready to roll? Gently, lay the bottom part of the wrapper over the row of ingredients, tucking it under the top of the ingredients. Then, take each side and fold it in on top of the encased ingredients. Finally, finish rolling up the Spring Roll tightly. There, you did it! The one trick that you can work on later is making a pretty row of shrimp or herb leaves on your Spring Roll. All you have to do for this is to line up your shrimp or herb leaves in a nice row, just above the first row of ingredients. This way they are completely separate and show through the wrapper. Just play with it. It really is fun to make. Kids love making these too, choosing their favorite ingredients and dipping them in the yummy sauce. However, if anyone has peanut allergies, you can also dip them in sweet chili sauce or sweet sour sauce.
So, time to roll up your sleeves, be brave and try a recipe you never imagined you could make. Once you do, you will be so happy because now you do not have to run out to your local restaurant to enjoy Fresh Thai Spring Rolls With Peanut Dipping Sauce. You can whip them up in your kitchen any time you like. This is what I love about sharing my experiences in the kitchen. I am not a professionally trained chef. I am just an ordinary cook who loves to try the extra ordinary along with all of my wonderful tried and true recipes that come to me from my family and friends. So, enjoy this new recipe in your Memorable Kitchen. You will be glad that you did!
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 can coconut milk, light or regular
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1½ teaspoons fish sauce
- 1½ teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup finely chopped peanuts
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, optional
- 1 bunch of romaine or butter lettuce
- 1 package Imitation Crab Sticks, sliced lengthwise in half
- 1 small package medium cooked shrimp
- Shredded cooked chicken
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 small English cucumber, cut into matchstick size piece, about 2 inches long
- 1 bunch cilantro or Thai basil
- 1 small bag carrot shreds
- 1-2 cups shredded cabbage or small bag of cole slaw mix
- 1 package Spring Roll wrappers or skins
- Place all ingredients in a small food processor and mix until blended and smooth or whisk together in a small bowl. Add chopped peanuts and cilantro. Set aside until ready to use.
- Clean green onions and herbs. Pat dry and set aside. Line up ingredients in bowls or on a large sheet pan or platter.
- Fill a baking pan with ½ inch of water.
- Place a large sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on a cutting board or counter.
- Take a sheet of Spring Roll wrapper, one at a time and lay it in the water for 30-60 seconds. Don't let the wrapper get too soft. It will continue to soften even after you remove it from the water.
- Remove the wrapper and lay it on the prepared surface.
- Lay one or two pieces of lettuce, ⅓ of the way up the wrapper on the side closest to you.
- Line up other ingredients of your choice, horizontally across the lettuce. Do not over fill.
- Gently fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling ingredients, tucking the end in under the filling.
- Gently fold the sides in over the covered filling.
- Finish rolling, tightly sealing the end of the Spring Roll.
- Serve with Peanut Dipping Sauce, Sweet Chili Sauce or Sweet Sour Sauce