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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer rolls!

Nam chow (fresh spring rolls/summer rolls)

1 package Rice paper (Summer roll wrappers)
shrimp (medium size works well)
fresh cilantro (stems are fine), fresh mint, fresh thai basil, and/or fresh sweet basil
thin rice vermicelli
1 plate or cutting board to roll spring rolls on
1 plate to set prepared rolls on
1 large head bibb lettuce (romain can work if you remove hard stem in middle or you can use another soft leaf lettuce)
bean sprouts (rinsed and dried)

  1. Wash fresh herbs, dry them, and place them into a bowl. 
  2. Boil rice noodles according to package recipe or until tender. Strain and set aside in bowl once tender. 
  3. As rice noodles are boiling, sautee raw shrimp over medium heat until bright pink. Set shrimp aside in bowl and let cool. 
  4. Create an assembly line with each item in a row on a table.
  5. Put a small pot of water on simmer and once it is warm, pour into a low-sided bowl. 
  6. To begin the process of rolling spring rolls, dip one round of rice paper into the warm water until the pattern disappears. 
  7. Although the paper will appear to still be a bit firm, don't worry. It will soften up during the time you place ingredientes on it. Don't over-moisten or it will tear.
  8. Place a piece of lettuce (maybe about as big as your hand without stretching it out)closest to the edge nearest to you. Leave a little space for the rice paper to stick to itself and seal at the end. 
  9. In front of (NOT on top of) the lettuce, place three pieces of shrimp along it's front edge (in a horizontal line). This placement allows you to see the shrimp through the roll like you do in restaurants, which makes it look nicer. 
  10. Place a small handful of noodles over the lettuce. 
  11. Cover noodles with a layer of bean sprouts (be careful to place any sharp ends downward so they don't pierce rice paper. 
  12. Add a line of your choice of fresh herbs along its length. 
  13. Roll the rice paper tightly over the noodles, tucking in the ends tightly as you roll. Keep rolling until you seal the end of the rice paper to the top of the roll. There you have it!

Enjoy with dtuk trei or fish sauce (I recommend 3 crabs brand, and recommend against Thai Kitchen). This dip should be prepared in advance (1 day if possible) because otherwise it tastes too strong and the flavors don't blend well). To the recipe below, add two or three cloves mashed then minced garlic. It's very important for a good flavor, in my opinion.

Fresh spring rolls (also called summer rolls) are best enjoyed fresh, but can be stored and enjoyed later if the proper precautions are taken. Rice paper tends to harden over time, but if you wrap your rolls in a damp paper towel (being sure to create space between each roll to avoid them sticking together) and store them in an airtight container in the fridge, they should be fine.

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