They're actually called Vietnamese Salad Rolls, Thai Spring Wraps, or Summer Rolls but maybe I'll just call them Winter Wraps since it seems to be winter around here. I think we've received close to a foot of new snow. What an April Fools. A few weeks ago James and I attended a convention for Great Harvest in Napa Valley. It is a beautiful place even if you don't drink, but a favorite part of the trip was being able to take a cooking class at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. It was fantastic!! The building is the most amazing old wine cellar that has been converted into the most beautiful cooking school and restaurant around. Our class was very intimate. Only about 19 people, and the class was on Vietnamese Salad Rolls. I asked the instructor what the difference was in Thai Spring Wraps and Summer Rolls and he said it just depends on what country you're in. All of the above are one in the same. I've wanted to learn how to make these for quite some time, but I've just never got the courage up to do it by myself. Well I'm never going to let those little wraps intimidate me again. They were so tasty and really easy.
There really is no cooking involved with making salad rolls, but we learned a lot about flavors blending together. Each one of us had a little tray with all the goods to make the salad rolls and a dipping sauce. It was amazing how everyone's dipping sauce tasted so different. We all started with chopped garlic, sambal chili sauce, sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. If you don't know what fish sauce is, it is exactly what the name states. Barrels are filled with fish and then layered with salt, more fish, salt and on and on until it's full. The barrels are then left in the sun for months. The liquid is then drained off and bottled. Wa-La! Fish Sauce! It sounds sick and it smells sick, but it tastes lovely. It is what countries like Vietnam, and Thailand use instead of soy sauce.
Each one of us was then asked to create a sauce using all of the ingredients and varying how much of one thing we used to balance with the other ingredients. I like my sauce sweet and James' was a bit more salty. I also thinned mine with a little water and James used his straight up. It was so fun and so tasty. I was so excited to try it out at home.
The Saturday after we returned home we set up a wrap station in the kitchen for lunch and the kids went wild. I wasn't sure if the little boys would like the rolls so much. It's a ton of veggies, but they devoured about 10 wraps together. If you have all of your ingredients already chopped and ready to go the making of the rolls is quick. We made them again a few days later they were that good. I've been able to find all the ingredients for these wraps in my regular grocery store. An Asian market is always fun to visit as well. The picture below of the finished wraps is two wraps cut on a bias. Emma actually made one and I made the other. These little love nuggets are dang good and super duper healthy. Tons of raw veggies, some rice noodles (I added coconut milk and curry to mine.) and a protein of choice. We used shrimp in Napa, but chicken was perfect at home. You are going to love these babies!
Vietnamese Salad Rolls (AKA Winter Rolls)
1 (8 ounce) package rice vermicelli
8 ounces cooked, peeled shrimp, cut in half lengthwise (Or chicken)
8 rice wrappers (6.5 inch diameter)
(They are round disks that have a basket weave texture on them. You can find them just about anywhere.)
1 carrot, julienned
1 cup shredded lettuce (I used spinach)
chopped Napa Cabbage or purple cabbage (I used both. It was pretty.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or mint or cilantro
Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Remove from heat. Place rice vermicelli in boiling water, remove from heat, and let soak 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Drain, and rinse with cold water. I then added a can of coconut milk, a little sugar, curry powder or paste and a dash of fish sauce. I cooked the noodles until they had absorbed the coconut milk.
Fill a large bowl with hot water. Dip one rice wrapper in the hot water for 5-10 seconds to soften. You don't want them too soft. They'll be totally soft by the time it is ready to roll up. Lay wrapper flat, and place desired amounts of noodles, shrimp, carrot, lettuce and basil in the center. Roll the edges of the wrapper slightly inward. Beginning at the bottom edge of wrapper, tightly wrap the ingredients. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Serve the spring rolls with dipping sauce.
Sambal chili paste
lime juice or vinegar
fish sauce or soy sauce
Add little amounts of the above ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved. Taste before using and add what you think it needs. I like it a bit sweeter. Experiement!