Move Aside “Taco Tuesdays,” A New Family Favourite is Here!! Fresh Spring Rolls For Any Day of the Week!
Can you tell I’m super excited?! It’s because this dish is possibly my new favourite. Then again, it seems like nearly every dish I make for this project becomes a new favourite. Well, I’m certainly expanding my cooking skills and trying new things! I would serve this dish to my family “Taco Night” style. What I mean is that I would have the veggies and meat prepared, and then allow everyone to choose their own fillings and roll them themselves.
I wish you could be here to smell the wonderfully fresh aromas that are mixing in this dish, and of course to taste it! It is to-die-for good. I give myself an A+ and a pat on the back with this one.
From my research, I have gathered that this is mainly a Vietnamese dish. While I was looking for information about this dish, I found this helpful article. It discusses the different types of meat, noodles, veggies and herbs to choose from. It also gives advice for wrapping and provides a recipe to follow for the rolls and sauces. There is a blog called “whiteonricecouple.com,” which I really like for this dish. The first link I found was your basic “here’s what I did and how you can change it up” post, and it didn’t have a recipe to follow. It did, however, have a step-by-step process with pictures, so if you are a visual learner check it out. I liked this because it shows the flexibility of the dish, but I was looking for something with chicken so that I knew the flavour would be good. Some time later I stumbled upon this article. Do not pass up this blog post. I repeat, do not keep reading without checking it out! This was the recipe that I ultimately used, and I have definitely saved it for using in the future.
Personally, I find that this project best suits using videos for my online sources. Most blogs have recipes and instructions that are okay, but it is always easier to see what is being done as it happens, especially if it is something you are unfamiliar with (in Ed we call this the “I do-We do-You do”!).
This video was helpful and pretty cool to see how her presentation of the rolls turned out (this is the video I refer to during my video). I did not use her same technique because I knew I wasn’t using shrimp so I kept on looking for other methods.
Here is another video that I used as a resource. I hate to admit it, but I actually forgot about this video while I was making my fresh rolls. I had found it early on in the semester and bookmarked it, but then forgot I had it when I was going through my research for this dish. I saw it again when I was gathering my information for this post and decided to include it anyways. This one is interesting. She makes it a complete vegetarian option (can sit on the counter or in the fridge), and implements a different process. She folds her rice paper in half, fills it and rolls it while leaving it folded for a double layer of the wrapper. This would be neat to try out next time because I did have a bit of trouble keeping my ends tucked in. On the funny side, the recipe I actually followed for the dipping sauce was nearly identical to the one in this video!
Okay, now to the method I actually used to roll the Fresh Spring Rolls. It’s actually kind of cool that there are so many ways to do this. When I compared it with a lot of my family recipes I realized that you couldn’t change the ingredients so drastically and still end up with something that tasted and presented well with the majority of the dishes. This clip was pretty good at explaining what to do, even though I did have to stop recording to double check the video. I had been trying to wrap my rolls vertically while they were demonstrating it with the filling placed horizontally. It threw me off when I was recording myself do it and I recognized that it wasn’t shaping up to look like what it did in her video (even though I tried to play it cool :P). I did’t notice the placement of the filling until I was recording again and determined to get it right, so it was definitely helpful to stop what I was doing and go back to the source.
In case you missed the best recipe ever, here it is below.
Garlic Chicken Spring Rolls Recipe
Yield: Serves 3-4
Total Time: 40 min
- 2 pounds of boneless chicken
- 4 Tablespoons of grape seed or vegetable oil
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce or fish sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
- fresh basil, mint or other herbs
- fresh lettuce, chopped or torn in small pieces
- carrots, celery, cucumbers, daikon radish or bell peppers
- rice paper
For Garlic Soy dip:
- 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (use Tamari for gluten free)
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil
- For the Chicken: In a large bowl, combine chicken, vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce. Cover well and allow to marinade for about 20 minutes.
- Heat frying pan and cook chicken. Slice in chicken in thin slices, about 1/4 inches for rolling.
- Gather vegetables, rice paper, board surface to roll on and bowl of hot water.
- For the Dip: combine all ingredients well.
- In large bowl, fill it with water and make it warm by adding hot water. Gently dip each rice paper wrapper in warm water for a few seconds till damp. Don’t over soak the rice paper. Place rice paper on plate, or working surface. As rice paper begins to absorb the water and become more soft and pliable (10-30 seconds, depending on wrappers and water temp.), begin to add the fillings.
- On the 1/3 section of the rice paper wrapper closest to you, start layering your fillings of lettuce, herbs, chicken and vegetables.
- Start rolling the wrapper over the fillings away from you, tucking and rolling the wrapper with your fingers, making sure all the fillings remain right and round within the rice paper wrapper.
- Serve immediately with soy dip, or cover with plastic wrap to eat a few hours later.
I’m not going to say a whole lot about my cooking process because that’s the focus of my video. What I will say is that other than the technicality of wrapping the rolls, you really can’t screw up this dish. You just mix and match meat (or not), noodles (or not), and various veggies and herbs. I was colour conscious and used carrots, an orange bell pepper, and for my greens, a cucumber, herbs and lettuce. From watching all of the above videos I knew that the veggies would show through and wanted to make it really colourful. Although next time I will try to overlap the pieces of chicken because when it looks separated (because it is – there is a tiny gap) it makes the roll quite a bit larger. I don’t like the idea of cutting these ones in half like sushi because of the finely chopped ingredients. I don’t think I could ever wrap it tight enough that at least some wouldn’t fall apart while dipping it if they were cut in half. That is the other thing I need to work on more, making the rolls tight and secure, although my technique had improved quite a bit by the end.
This is the Garlic Soy Dip. I changed it up slightly by using one fresh lime to replace the lime juice, and splenda to make it sugar free. As a side note, this dish can be made gluten free because of the rice papers, as long as you are sure to use Tamari instead of soya sauce because it does usually contain wheat products. Some soya sauces are sugar and/or wheat free so depending on what your dietary need is, this dish is a great way to still enjoy food while eating something healthy and tasty.
My favourite part of this video is that I actually managed to capture the best moment of every teacher’s day, the ever elusive “Ah-ha Moment.” I was struggling to wrap these rolls like the lady in the video I watched did with ease. I left to re-watch the video and came back thinking I had found the answer. Reducing the amount of veggies per wrap may have helped, but the bigger problem was with the wrapping itself. I was filling the wraps the opposite way as the film did, and you can literally see me talk it out to myself when I realize what the problem is. As we used to say when I was in 4-H, “Learn to do by doing.”