Fresh Spring Rolls w/ Peanut Dipping Sauce

Fresh rolls is a new beloved addition to our dinner repertoire. I am not sure if fresh rolls originated as Vietnamese or Thai or both - but they do taste amazing and are very quick to put together if you have all the right ingredients at hand.

They are a perfect accompaniment to a more richer spicier meal of Thai curry with rice or just enjoy on their own on hot summer days when turning on stove or oven just doesn't feel like it's in the cards.

As a family we are trying to eat less processed and cooked foods at dinner time and instead swap them with lightly cooked or uncooked vegetables. It's hard because we are so used to relating dinner with comfort food and comfort food with cooked rich food - but I have learnt that it's not impossible but just a matter of retraining your taste buds and the delicious raw recipes like these are a great help!
Assembling these fresh rolls is very simple but I have found out the hard way that the quality of rolls heavily depends on how uniformly the veggies are chopped. If you have a food processor accessory to make julienne cuts, this is the time to take it out - if using old fashioned way with knife, treat it as a time to practice your uber knife skills :) 

While most of my sliced veggies were passable, a few did manage to be long enough or thick enough to stubbornly stick out of their wrappings.

  • Spring roll wrappers (found in Asian stores)
  • Crunchy vegetables - radish, carrot, zucchini, cucumber, jicama etc
  • Protein - extra firm tofu (the extra firm is very important in this recipe)
  • Noodles - thin vermicelli noodles (or skip if you don't have at hand)
  • Greens - lettuce cut in stripes (I have also used Arugula which is not traditional in fresh rolls but something I always have at hand)
  • Herbs - thinly chopped mint and chives
  • 1tsp oil
  • 1Tbsp peanut dipping sauce (to glaze pan-fried tofu)
Prepare tofu and veggies:
  • Try to take out as much water as you can from the tofu slab by lightly dabbing and pressing it against kitchen towels. Cut into long stripes, fry the tofu lightly in a non-stick pan with 1tsp oil until lightly browned on all sides.
  • Remove from heat. Spread a little dipping sauce on the tofu on all sides and set aside.
  • Prepare all the veggies - thin julienne cuts, not too long. I usually cut the thin slices lengthwise at the end so that no piece of veggie is more than two inches or so.
  • Prepare the vermicelli noodles per package instructions.
  • Thinly chop the aromatics and set aside.
  • Take warm water in a wide bowl. 
  • Dip a spring roll wrapper in warm water, wait just a few seconds and take it out and spread on a large plate.
  • Add the filling about 1/3rd point of the circle closer to you.
  • First add a nice bed of greens. Then add a few veggies, noodles if using then a little tofu and roll.
  • See this for step-by-step illustrations of how to roll a spring roll.
  • Roll tightly trying to tuck away all the veggies together.
  • Use as many spring roll wrappers as you have the fillings for. I usually make about 16 at a time with one radish, one cucumber, one zucchini and one package of extra firm tofu.
  • Enjoy with a tasty peanut dipping sauce.
Peanut dipping sauce is very simple: few Tbsp crunchy peanut butter, some warm water to thin it, soy-sauce, lemon juice, sugar and salt. I made the peanut dipping sauce using this recipe - keep tasting and adjust ingredients to your taste.