Calls for “a Chinese”, in the western Hemisphere at least, are more often than not accompanied by the demand for spring rolls. In Britain the most frequently heard exclamation on the arrival of a chow mein (other dishes are available) is “we simply must have spring rolls, darling”, or something to that general effect. Indeed, upon seeing these wraps in the background of my previous recipe, noodle broth, a general clamour for the recipe ensued – well, folks, here it is.
Delicious though they are, the problem with spring rolls in this country is that they are always deep fried. Perhaps this is because, on the supermarket shelf, a fresh spring roll wouldn’t keep quite as well as its crispy counterpart. Whatever the reason, it is something of a shame that the healthier spring roll has become so elusive. Still, dried rice wrappers aren’t too difficult to come by. If you are struggling, I suggest looking in health food shops or that rather intimidating Asian “supermarket” you’ve always been too scared to sample.
Please, don’t be put off by the idea of having to wrap your own rolls – it is extremely easy. Granted, you’ll need a little time as it’s easiest to wrap them one by one, but after you’ve done your first you’ll have picked up the knack. As with most wraps, spring rolls are very versatile – fill them with whatever you please, within reason. Duck is an effective meat filling, particularly when served alongside a delicious plum dip. Whatever you fill yours with, follow the method below and you’ll not go far wrong – I’ll make sure to explore different combinations in the future.
Vegetable Spring Rolls
• 6-8 spring roll wrappers
• 40g rice noodles
• 3 leaves of pak choi, finely sliced
• 1 carrot, matchsticked
• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed
• Two handfuls of beansprouts
• A handful of sweet basil, torn
• A few dashes of dark soy sauce
• Sesame oil
1. Prepare your filling. Put the noodles in hot water and boil until soft. Meanwhile, heat a little sesame oil in a frying pan or wok and add the garlic and carrot. Once cooked tip in the noodles, beansprouts and pak choi. Toss once or twice, pop the lid on and turn right down.
2. One at a time, soak your wrappers in warm water until malleable, transfer to a clean surface and add 2 tbsp of the noodle mixture, a little basil and a dash of soy sauce, to the centre of each.
3. To wrap, bring two opposing sides of the wrap together until 2cm apart at the middle. Fold one remaining side over the mixture and roll until cylindrical. The wrap should adhere to itself. Serve alongside a delicious noodle broth.
Cost: Rice wrappers can be a little pricey, though the packet I bought contained six more than it should have! In any case, 12 wrappers should set you back around £1.30. Once filled, a portion of six should cost no more than around £1.40.