Summer Food: Spring Roll Recipe

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jun 25, 2009 / 0 comments

One of our favorite meals is thai-inspired spring rolls. Perfect for hot summer days when you don't want to cook (like today), they are great for including everyone in on the chopping, creating, and folding. AND EATING!

Inspired by a thai salad dressing in one of my favorite books, hungry monkey, we adapted the salad dressing and started chopping away on the meat and veggies.

leftover steak was sliced thinly and into bite-sized pieces, and marinated in some of the thai salad dressing. our 6yo picked the basil and cilantro, and chopped the cucumber. some people put cabbage in but i don't want it that crunch.

re: spring roll papers. they will look hard, circular, and sometimes have criss-crosses on them. you can get them at any asian grocery store.

here's how to do it (a recipe, of sorts):

open a pack of rice noodles and put some in a bowl (you might as well make the whole pack, and use them for a salad the next day). pour boiling hot water over them and let sit for 4 minutes. drain, run cool water over them, and set aside.

chop all of the ingredients you want in your spring rolls. this could be:

green onions
meat (steak, shrimp, shredded chicken)
carrots - it is fun to use a veggie peeler and make long thin strips
herbs - cilantro and basil are important!

each ingredient should be sort of long and also bite-sized. you don't want to take a bite and then pull out a strip of steak, or cucumber. i guess "fat julienne" would be a useful phrase for how you'd want to chop things. if your kids are doing it, they can be creative. our 6yo said that hers were dinosaur nibbles. what? i know.


spring roll recipe



when you're ready and all is prepared, get everything onto one table and call the family. each person can make their own, putting in exactly what they like!

take some spring roll wrappers. one at a time, soak in a large pie plate with hot (not boiling) water. when it sort of turns a bit melty and flexible, take it out and put it on a plate. (start another one in the pie plate with the water).

layer on your ingredients, right in the middle. don't overstuff! first, put down your basil or cilantro leaves, because it will be pretty when it is rolled up. then we chose to do it this way:

some noodles
steak pieces w/thai salad dressing still dripping from it
more cilantro


spring roll recipe


now, to roll it!

take the edge closest to you and fold it up over the filling. sort of tuck it in tightly. fold the two edges in over the middle part, so that it makes an envelope. then roll it the rest of the way, until you run out of wrapping. set aside and make more.

the filling options can be endless - whatever is in your fridge that you love to eat.

pour some of the thai salad dressing into a small bowl for each person, and they can dip their spring rolls into this delicious sauce.

here's our adaptation of the thai salad dressing from hungry monkey, by one of my favorite food writers, matthew amster-burton. we love ginger and sesame so we added it.

3-4 T fish sauce
juice of 3-4 limes
2 t sugar
chiles if you'd like - my husband adds his separately
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
about a 1 inch chunk of ginger, finely minced or grated on your microplane grater
1-2 t sesame oil
some finely chopped green onion

stir until the sugar is dissolved. as matthew says, "serve over steak, grilled chicken, cucumbers, salmon...seriously, this stuff is good on everything short of ice cream."  YEP.

this is a great meal for kids - whenever our daughter has friends over for a picnic, we set out the ingredients and let the kids make their own food.