Seasons’ Eatings: Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
By Marc Duquette
Pelham, NH – This week, I am relaying off Brianna in sunny San Diego who, last week, prepared a Cool Curried Kohlrabi Slaw. I am relaying off a number of her ingredients–most notably the kohlrabi, and indirectly, her preparation method–shredding veggies for the slaw. The difference in my recipe is that I am taking the shredded veggies and am placing them in neat little packages. I am making fresh Vietnamese spring rolls with an incredible peanut dipping sauce.
The recipe features organic leaf lettuce and cilantro from my aquaponics system. Also in the spring rolls: shredded carrot and kohlrabi, sprouts, julienned cucumber and green onions, and fine bean thread vermicelli. The dipping sauce is made with an all-natural peanut butter (no oil, no sugar), homemade apple vinegar (easy and fun to make), sesame oil, organic Tamari sauce (fermented soy sauce), and organic red pepper flakes (dried from last summer’s garden). Besides the peanut dipping sauce, I suggest serving Sriracha sauce (a hot pepper sauce) as an alternative to, or in addition to the peanut sauce. A taste of Spring in the dead of Winter!
CLICK HERE for the full article and recipe.
The sprouts are homegrown clover sprouts—just what I happened to be growing at the time. Most natural food markets today sell growing kits and a variety of seeds for growing your own sprouts. It’s easy to do and creates yet another opportunity to introduce healthy greens into your diet.
In the process of sourcing the ingredients for the recipe I stumbled upon Simply Wholesome, a small, organic and natural foods market in Windham, New Hampshire. Although I’ve driven by the market a thousand times, it was easily missed sitting discreetly in the back of a small shopping plaza. The market has been in operation for two years and does a great job supporting local producers. There, I crossed chunky peanut butter off my list. Unlike Brianna and Sarah who have access to some amazing markets, my choices are quite limited so I do get excited when I find a new local resource.
For the Asian ingredients I shop at the Saigon Asian Market in Manchester, NH. Although, these ingredients are certainly not local, and likely not organic (except for the tamari sauce), I am comforted by the fact that they are “whole” foods or “minimally processed” foods. I’d be interested in hearing your comments and experiences on the sourcing of these types of ingredients in your community.
Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 20 to 30 Spring Rolls
For the Peanut Sauce
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (to taste)
For the Spring Rolls
- 1 bundle fresh cilantro (parsley or mint are frequently used as substitutes)
- 1 large or 2 small carrots
- 1 kohlrabi, peeled
- 1 ½ cups sprouts
- 3 green onions (scallions)
- 1 small cucumber
- 1 head loose leaf lettuce
- 1 package bean thread noodles
- 1 package rice paper spring roll wrappers
- Prepare the sauce. Combine all ingredients and whisk vigorously until well blended. Set aside to allow for the flavor to develop.
- Prepare the vegetables. Shred the carrot and kohlrabi in a food processor, on a mandolin food slicer, or by hand. Julienne (cut into long thin strips) the onion and cucumber. Tear the lettuce into decent sized pieces.
- Prepare the noodles. Cook noodles al dente according to package directions. Bean thread noodles are very fine and cook quickly—a few minutes at most. When done, drain and toss with a little oil to prevent them from sticking together.
- Assemble the spring rolls. Fill a plate with warm water and place alongside all of your prepared spring roll ingredients. Set a dry plate or cutting board in front of you as your work surface. When ready, place a wrapper in the warm water until just pliable, about 15-20 seconds. Pull it out of the water and let drip for a second or two. Place the wrapper on the working surface and fill with ingredients. Start with a sprig of cilantro and top with remaining ingredients in any order you wish.
- Roll-away. Rolling a spring roll is much like folding a burrito. Fold one side of the wrapper tightly over ingredients, then fold over the ends, then finish the roll. Set aside on a serving platter.
- Some tips: 1. If you leave the wrapper in the water too long it will get very soft and difficult to roll. Leave the wrapper in the water just long enough for it to become pliable, without breaking. 2. Overloading the spring roll will also make it difficult to roll. Leave enough wrapper exposed at each end to be able to fold over. 3. Switch it up. Throw some shrimp or pork in the spring rolls. Swap out the veggies—try thinly sliced radish, shredded Chinese cabbage, peppery watercress, basil, mushrooms, etc.
- If this is your first time making a spring roll, do not be intimidated by the wrapping process and accept the fact that your first few spring rolls may not be perfect. So what? Have fun with it!
Check out Marc’s garden at MarcsGarden.com. The photographs in this week’s post were taken by Catherine Paluzzi, Marc’s stepdaughter.