SPRING ROLLS

  • 1 package large dried rice wrappers (also called "rice paper")

  • 1 cup cooked chicken or turkey, sliced or cut into bite-size pieces, and tossed in 2-3 Tbsp. fish sauce (OR substitute 1 cup cooked small or medium-sized shrimp - fresh, canned, or frozen, tossed in 2 Tbsp. soy sauce) - If Vegetarian, substitute baked tofu or flavored wheat gluten

  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

  • 1 cup fresh sweet basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large

  • 1/2 large cucumber, sliced into matchstick-like pieces

  • 1 carrot, grated

  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts

Except for the rice rolls, place each of the above ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.

Fill a large bowl half full of hot water (but not scalding, as you will have to dip your fingers in it). Place bowl and wrappers on a clean working surface, such as a cutting board.

Take out one of the rice wrappers and place it in the bowl of hot water. You may have to gently press the wrapper down into the water. The rice paper will soften in approximately 30 seconds.

When the wrapper is soft enough to eat (these rolls do not require cooking), remove from water and place on the clean working surface.

Working always horizontally, place slices of the chicken (or tofu/wheat gluten) toward the end of the wrapper. Now add some of the cucumber on top.

Now add a little carrot, fresh coriander, basil, and bean sprouts. Begin to roll by folding the bottom portion of rice paper over the ingredients. Continue by lifting the right side of the wrapper and folding it over the ingredients. To complete the roll, fold top side down, OR roll the spring roll forward until all the end of the rice paper. Try to keep your folding/rolling as tight as possible. The ingredients should appear at one end to create an "open" type of fresh roll. To secure the roll, simply dip your fingers in a little water and wet the end flap, then press to seal. Place upright in a bowl (like a bouquet), or on a platter. Serve with hoisin sauce and/or Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (available at most large supermarkets in the Asian section, or in Asian/Chinese food stores). Or serve with my Thai Peanut Sauce (recipe). These fresh rolls pair well with a cold lager, or a glass of chilled white wine. ENJOY!

While most Western versions of peanut sauce are made with peanut butter, this Thai peanut sauce recipe starts with real peanuts - and you'll taste the difference! At the same time, it's super easy and quick to make. This peanut sauce can be used for a variety of purposes, from a dip for veggies to a sauce for chicken or beef satay. Or use it to make a yummy cold noodle salad. A very easy and delicious peanut sauce recipe!

PEANUT SAUCE

  • 1 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted

  • 1/3 cup water

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce

  • 2 tsp. sesame oil

  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce (If vegetarian, use vegetarian fish sauce or regular soy sauce)

  • 1/2 tsp. tamarind paste OR 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice

  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1 tsp. Thai chili sauce (more or less to taste)

  • 1/3 cup coconut milk

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.

Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough, or more cayenne if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you'd prefer it sweeter, add more sugar.

Serve warm or at room temperature as a dip with fresh veggies, with chicken or beef satay, fresh spring rolls, or other Asian finger foods. Or mix with noodles to create a Thai-style noodle dish or cold noodle salad. Enjoy!

Note: This sauce will thicken as it sits - just add a little water or coconut milk to thin it out, as needed. Otherwise it stores well if kept covered in the refrigerator (keep up to 2 weeks, or freeze).