Fresh and crisp rainbow veggies, rice vermicelli noodles, bright fresh herbs, steamed jumbo shrimp all wrapped up in a little gluten-free rice wrapper and then plunged into a sweet, spicy, sour and savoury Asian dipping sauce.
You can serve rainbow veggie spring rolls as a starter, a light lunch or even as a light dinner with a big bowl of Phake Pho Soup, Tropical Thai Fish or maybe some Pad Thai. In addition, these little guys are completely portable and make the perfect bento school lunch box accompaniment. Yes, even my teenage boys loved them and now they want me to put this in their school lunch rotation.
As the days get warmer, we crave some fresher cooler things like salad but salads every day is a little boring. We need to mix it up a little bit and these little rainbow veggie spring rolls are perfect way to enjoy a bite of spring.
My mom used to always tell me to eat the rainbow of veggies to enjoy a variety of vitamins and minerals and so I did. You can use any fresh veggies you have in your crisper as really any thing your heart desires would go. The only must is that you cut them up thin and small and relatively the same size as each other.
I also steamed shrimp and added them to the rainbow veggie spring rolls as they look just gorgeous peaking through the skins of the rice papers but if you are vegan they can be omitted or maybe add some grilled tofu instead.
Many of you may call this Vietnamese spring rolls (Cha Gio), Malaysian rice paper rolls or Thai fresh spring rolls and they are all of these mixed into one with a Thai dipping sauce that needed a little Japanese influence.
Of course they do not have fresh spring rolls so much in Japan but they do have ponzu sauce. I always, always, always have fish sauce and a back up fish sauce at home as we do a lot of Thai cooking at home. However, something has gone wrong with my inventory management program as I was just about to whip up the dipping sauce when I realized I did not have a drop to spare. Hmmm…
Fish sauce has as a really unique flavor and it does not really have a replacement. I did a little experimentation and ponzu sauce, although not anything like fish sauce, was a delightful addition to this sauce. Ponzu sauce is essentially soya sauce and lemon juice. Head on over to my dear friend Nami-san at Just One Cookbook for her ponzu sauce recipe. Ponzu sauce is a lighter and brighter way to add a little savory flavor to the sauce. Along with some fresh lemongrass, chili, keffir lime leaves, garlic, scallions and cilantro it makes a delightful light dipping sauce for your veggie rainbow spring rolls.
Do you ever use bean thread vermacelli noodles in your cooking? They are gluten- free and there is no cooking involved just soak the noodles in a little warm water for a few minutes to soften and they are done and ready to be eaten. Cellophane noodles are also known as Chinese vermicelli, bean threads, bean thread noodles, crystal noodles, or glass noodles. Bean thread vermicelli noodles are a type of transparent noodle made from starch such as maybe mung bean starch, yam or potato starch, and water. Bean thread vermicelli noodles are delicious in stir fries, soups and of course in these little rainbow veggie spring rolls.
Rice wrappers can be found in Asian food markets or in grocery stores down the international food isles. Rice wrappers are very thin round disks that look like a glass version of a flour tortilla. Rice wrappers are used in the same way as a flour tortilla. You wrap up your favorite ingredients with them and eat. However unlike a flour tortilla, it is much lighter and it is gluten-free. You will need to soak the wrapper for about 10-15 seconds in room temperature water for them to become pliable before using. The only down side to these little rice papers is that they can tear easily and they are also about as slippery as a fresh fish that has gotten loose on a wet boat. I always say the first few rice paper wrapping mistakes are the chefs treats.
My youngest teenager went gorging (hiking along and in the river) this afternoon before the storm and look at this beautiful shot he took. I love his perspective with the close up of the leaves in front and then the buildings in the distance. However, I most happy that he just did not drop his iphone into the river… ayahhh…
Hong Kong, despite of what you might image as the concrete jungle is very green and lush. Hiking is the perfect way to explore it , enjoy it and burn a few calories. Eating the rainbow with these fresh veggie spring rolls is a good way to reduce the amount of calories and fat going in while enjoying a delicious treat.
Fresh and crisp rainbow veggies, rice vermacilli noodles, bright fresh herbs, steamed jumbo shrimp all wrapped up in a little gluten free rice wrapper and then plunged into a sweet, spicy, sour and savoury Asian dipping sauce.
- shrimp - 12 large
- bean thread vermacelli noodles - handful or 1 section
- carrots - 1 cup (thin 2 inch long slices)
- cucumber - 1 peel removed and sliced lengthwise thin 2 inch strips
- mung beans (bean sprouts) - handful cut in half
- snow peas - 3/4 cup or handful sliced lengthwise
- bell peppers - 1/2 red and yellow bells sliced into thin 2 inch strips
- cilantro - handful washed and stems removed ( i had to use curly parsley due to inventory issues
- spring roll rice papers - 12 pieces
- Asian Dipping Sauce
- ponzu dipping sauce - 1/8 cup (or if you have fish sauce use that)
- lime juice - juice of one large lime
- rice vinegar - 1/3 cup
- Lemon Grass (Ta-khrai) - 1 chopped finely
- Galangal (Kha) - 1/2 teaspoon grated finely (can also use ginger)
- scallion - 1 chopped finely
- chili peppers - 1 or 1/2 half bird chili minced (optional)
- cilantro - 1 teaspoon chopped
- garlic - 1 clove minced
- sugar or sugar alternative - 1-2 teaspoon or to taste
- keffir lime leaves - 1 chopped finely
Step 1: Remove shells, devein and wash your shrimp. Boil shrimp between 1-2 minutes or just until they turn pink and quickly remove them from the water to cool (Do not overcook shrimp or they will be rubbery). Set aside and place over ice and when cool enough cut shrimp in half lengthwise.
Step 2: Put your bean thread vermacelli noodles in a medium bowl and cover with a little hot water, not boiling just warm to the touch, maybe like the same temperature of the water you make for coffee/tea is perfect. Soak for about 12-15 minutes until soft to the touch and aldente. Drain and rinse in cold water in a colander and set aside.
Step 3: Chop all of your vegetables. You do not need to use the vegetables I have used in my recipe just look and see what you have in your refrigerator and make it colorful. The goal is to cut your vegetables very thin and uniform in size into about 2 inch long very thin segments. If you make them too long they will not fit into the rice wrappers. If you want to use the vegetables I did then cut the carrots into thin 2 inch segments. I used a victrola tool, much like a mandolin to get the really thin slices or just use a knife. Cut the cucumbers into thin 2 inch segments. Cut the mung beans in half. Cut your snow peas into thing strips lengthwise. Cut bell peppers into thin slices. Remove your cilantro, parsley, mint leaves from the stems. Set aside.
Step 4: Soak your rice wrappers in cool water in a large plate for about 20 seconds. Transfer your rice paper to a tea towel to soak up the excess water. Then lie your rice roll on a clean surface. Your rice roll should be soft and pliable but not too wet or it will be difficult to roll and may tear. Only work with one rice paper at a time as if they get too wet they will tear and if soaking together they will stick together.
Step 5: Rolling up your rainbow veggie rice rolls. (Practice makes perfect and do not be frustrated with your first couple of tries, I promise you can do it. Do not put too much filling as it will be difficult to roll) Set your soaked and dried rice paper on your clean work surface. On the section closest to you, layer on top of your rice wrapper a just a few strands of soaked and drained bean thread vermacelli noodles. (I used kitchen scissors to cut them into smaller threads). Then I put on a couple of slices of carrots, cucumber, snow peas, mung beans, red bell pepper and 2 half slices of the shrimp. Make sure that you leave at least a 2 inch gap on the sides . Now fold in sides of rice wrapper over the vegetables. Then very carefully whilst holding the sides roll up the rainbow veggie roll tightly. Repeat with the remaining veggie spring rolls.
Step 6: Make the Asian dipping sauce: In a small bowl add the ponzu sauce or fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, chopped lemon grass, galangal or ginger, scallion, chili peppers to taste, cilantro, garlic sugar or sugar alternative and keffir lime leaves. If you like your sauce more spicy add more chili, if you like your sauce more sour add more lime juice, if you like your sauce more salty add more ponzu or fish sauce, if you like your sauce more sweet add more sugar or sugar alternative. (If you do not have access to keffir lime leaves and lemon grass, etc. no worries just leave out as the sauce will still be delicious)
Step 7: Serve Rainbow Veggie rolls with special Asian dipping sauce and enjoy.