I totally love fresh spring rolls, both the Thai and the Vietnamese versions. I'm completely addicted to the pleasant chewiness of the rice paper and the crunchiness of the raw vegetables and I can eat them for at least a couple of days in a row. I just vary the filling and never get tired of them.
Last weekend I had an oriental cooking evening with a bunch of friends at my cooking school and we made both fried spring rolls and fresh ones. For the fried version we used wheat wrappers and we filled both types with the same ingredients, including sautéed shrimps. Both very yummy, and yet my BIG preference goes to the fresh, rice ones.
I made them again the day after and again yesterday (I told you I'm addicted...). This is a bit of a fusion recipe since I've never seen original oriental spring rolls made with shredded beets but the fact that I've never seen them doesn't mean they do not exist.
They're super easy to make, the only work needed is transforming the veggies into a nice julienne. If you have a food processor that does it for you then that's easily done. I did it by hand using a special julienne peeler because I like the thinness of the veggies - carrot and red beet - once they've been shredded like this.
Spring onions, avocado and mint were the other fresh ingredients, and instead of shrimp this time I used grilled organic chicken marinated in sesame oil and a bit of salt. A sprinkle of white sesame seeds for the extra crunch was the finishing touch.
I dipped them in soy sauce first and immediately after in hot sriracha sauce. Total yumminess.
I've also made a vegetarian version filled with rucola, avocado, carrot, Parmesan cheese flakes and roughly chopped Brazil nuts. You can also use cashews, previously soaked in cold water for a few hours. Very nice variation!
There's a beautiful tutorial on how to make Vietnamese spring rolls by Whiteonricecouple and you can find it here.
Hope you'll enjoy this version as much as I did.
Fusion spring rolls
Serves 2 (about 10 rolls)
1 medium-sized chicken breast
3 spring onions
1 medium-sized carrot
1 small red beet, raw and peeled
1 small ripe avocado
white sesame seeds
a few sprigs of fresh mint
Vietnamese rice paper sheets (about 22 cm)
Massage the chicken breast with sesame oil and a pinch of salt and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
Grill the chicken until well done and nicely striped, let it cool and cut into thin strips.
Shred the beet and the halved carrot (julienne) and slice the spring onions into thin strips of about the same length of the julienned vegetables.
Dip a rice paper sheet into a bowl of cold water for a few seconds until it's soft and pliable and lay it on the working surface (you can put it on a wet towel but I noticed that the ones I used - see photo - didn't stick to the chopping board I was using as a working surface anyway).
Fill each rice paper sheet - only the lower part, the one closer to you - with a bit of vegetables, a couple of strips of grilled chicken, some thin slices of avocado, a few mint leaves and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Leave the sides free.
Start rolling and tuck the filling while you roll.
Fold the sides of the rice paper sheet to make sure the filling stays inside and roll until completely sealed.
Repeat with the rest of the ingredients and dip your spring rolls soy sauce and sriracha for some extra zing.