Mexican food is always a big hit. One of our favorite treats is fresh spring rolls, but we’ve had a hard time finding them in our new city. So, we took things into our own hands and tried making our own! I’m so glad we did. This recipe is really much easier than it seems, although it is a bit of a project to do all the prep work. It’s well worth it, though, and we had a lot of fun putting them together.
One of the best things about these spring rolls is that they are so adaptable. You can really include any veggies that you have on hand, and you can adapt the herbs to your preferences. We used baked tofu to add some protein, but you could leave it out or include some strips of grilled chicken or another meat. Basically, just add whatever you like!
A couple of notes about the recipe: We used cellophane noodles instead of the rice noodles called for in the original recipe. You could use either, but we had cellophane noodles on hand. Cellophane noodle are usually made out of mung bean starch and they are also known as vermicelli or glass noodles. You could use thin rice noodles, but we thought the texture of the cellophane noodles was perfect for filling these rolls.
Also, when you are buying the spring roll wrappers, be sure to find the ones made out of rice instead of the ones made out of wheat. Wheat egg roll wrappers are usually refrigerated and have to be cooked, but their rice cousins are dried and they only need to be soaked in warm water instead of being cooked. We found a package of about 50 wrappers for only a couple dollars in the Vietnamese section of our local Asian market.
Finally, we would cut the recipe in half next time for our family of two, since it makes 12 rolls and we found that they don’t keep well for more than about a day before the wrappers start falling apart. They were delicious, though, and this is a recipe that we will be making over and over again!
Fresh Spring Rolls (slightly adapted from The Curvy Carrot)
- 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 c. hot tap water
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- dash of pepper
- 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into twelve 3-by-1/2-inch sticks
- 1 c. cellophane (or thin rice) noodles, prepared according to package directions
- 1/2 of a cucumber, sliced into thin sticks (about the width of a matchstick and about 3 inches long)
- 1 carrot, sliced the same size as the cucumbers
- 1 c. mung bean sprouts
- 1 avocado, sliced lengthwise into 12 even pieces
- 12 pieces lettuce, torn into 3-by-3-inch pieces
- 1/4 c. coarsely chopped fresh mint (less if you prefer – the flavor is strong)
- 1/4 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
- Twelve 6-inch spring roll wrappers
First, make the peanut sauce:
- In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter and hot water until smooth.
- Add the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together the soy sauce, oil, and pepper.
- Drain the tofu sticks on a paper towel to remove excess water, then place them on a rimmed baking sheet or in a casserole dish.
- Pour the marinade evenly over each piece of tofu, making sure all sides are thoroughly coated.
- Allow the tofu to marinate for at least 10 to 15 minutes before baking.
- Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, flipping the tofu sticks over halfway through baking. The goal is to get them golden brown on each side. Keep an eye on them; ours were finished in about 25 minutes but the original recipe called for 30 minutes.
(While the tofu is baking, you can prepare your veggies!)
Finally, assemble the spring rolls. This is where teamwork comes in handy:
- Fill a wide, shallow bowl with warm water. We used a frying pan, but a pie pan would be great too. You just need an inch or two of water.
- Take a spring roll wrapper and place it in the water for about 5 seconds, until it is soft and pliable.
- Lay the wrapper flat on your work surface. Place one piece of lettuce on the top center of the wrapper, making sure to leave a border on all sides.
- On top of the lettuce, arrange a few pieces of carrot and cucumber, a slice of tofu and avocado, a spoonful of bean sprouts and noodles, and a sprinkle of mint and cilantro. (You want the wrapper to be more full rather than less, but don’t overfill it. You’ll get the hang of how much to include once you do one or two rolls.)
- Hold the fillings together with one hand and wrap it up like a burrito: start by folding in the sides, then roll the wrapper lengthwise around the fillings. You want to wrap it as tightly as possible around the fillings so that the roll stays together once you begin eating it. Press the edges of the wrapper together to seal it.
- Repeat the process with each of the remaining spring roll wrappers, and serve with the peanut sauce.