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These Fresh Spring Rolls are perfect when you're looking for a light lunch, a fun appetizer, or just a delicious way to beat the heat. Bursting with a medley of vibrant vegetables, tender vermicelli noodles, and crispy tofu strips, all wrapped up in delicate rice wrappers and served with a zesty peanut sauce.
Fresh Spring Rolls – my go-to delight when dining out! There's something about their colorful presentation and light, yet satisfying taste that always leaves me craving more. I find myself reaching for these rolls on any menu that offers them.
They are also so much fun to make at home and have become a family affair! I set out the fillings and everyone eagerly gathers in the kitchen to customize their own rolls. It's a great way to get kiddos to eat their veggies.
They are so flavorful as is, but they are out-of-this-world when served with my peanut sauce recipe which can be made spicy or mild to suit your taste buds. It's heavenly!
- Rice Wrappers - I used 8-inch wrappers, but you can also use 6-inch ones. Just note they will hold less filling.
- Vermicelli Noodles - Adds a soft and chewy texture to the rolls, providing additional substance. Glass noodles will work too.
- Red Bell Pepper - You can use any variety of bell pepper or add a little heat with poblano or jalapeño pepper.
- Persian Cucumbers - English cucumbers or regular cucumbers will work too.
- Purple Cabbage - Green or savoy cabbage will work too.
- Carrot - Daikon radish or julienned zucchini can be used.
- Butter Lettuce - Acts as a soft and tender wrap for the other ingredients. You can also use green leaf lettuce.
- Fresh Herbs - I used a blend of mint, basil leaves, and cilantro leaves, but you can add other herbs such as dill, parsley, or chives.
- Green Onions - You can use chives or omit them altogether.
- Toasted Sesame Oil - This will add a wonderful toasty flavor to the noodles and also prevent them from sticking. Regular sesame oil or any neutral oil will work too.
- Tofu - It can be prepared in a variety of ways. If you don't want to fry the tofu, feel free to use store-bought tofu that's already been seasoned and baked (Trader Joe's makes a good one). You can even use uncooked tofu and just season it with salt and pepper.
How to make Fresh Spring Rolls
If you're new to making Fresh Spring Rolls, don't worry! These step-by-step photos will turn you into a spring roll expert in no time! There's also a video tutorial in the recipe card below.
- Cook the vermicelli according to package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drizzle with sesame oil.
- Whisk the cornstarch, salt, and garlic together in a shallow. Cut the pressed tofu into 4 rectangular blocks and coat each piece in the cornstarch mixture.
- Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add the oil and when it’s hot and shimmering, add the tofu pieces, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and crispy.
- Slice the tofu into 1⁄2” thick strips
- Soak the rice wrapper in warm water for about 10 seconds until it becomes soft and pliable. Place the wrapper on a slightly dampened work surface. Lay down the butter leaf and add the filling ingredients on top.
- Roll everything up snugly in the lettuce leaf then place it seam-side down on the bottom ⅓ of the rice wrapper closest to you.
- Start rolling the wrapper.
- When you’ve made one full turn, tightly roll up the wrapper, tucking in the sides as you go.
- Repeat with the remaining rice wrappers, lettuce leaves, and filling.
Expert Tips and Tricks
Here are some expert tips and tricks to ensure your experience is a smooth and successful one:
- Assembly Mastery: It's essential to strike a balance between stuffing them with fillings and leaving enough space to wrap them securely without breaking. Practice makes perfect, so don't be discouraged if your first rolls aren't picture-perfect.
- Soften Rice Wrappers: Dip each rice wrapper in warm water for about 10 seconds until it becomes pliable. Don't soak it for too long, as it will continue to soften as you work.
- Prevent Sticking: Lay the soaked rice wrapper on a slightly damp clean surface to prevent sticking while rolling. You can also use a dampened, lint-free tea towel.
- Bundle the Filling: If possible, bundle and roll the filling into the lettuce leaf before rolling it into the rice wrapper. This helps hold everything together while you roll and prevents piercing the rice paper. I learned this fantastic tip from Recipe Tin Eats. Works like a charm!
- Keep It Tight: As you roll, tuck in the sides to keep everything neat. Rolling tightly will help hold the ingredients in place and prevent the roll from falling apart.
- Make them Pretty: Try to keep the filling as neat as possible so they look pretty when cut. I like to keep each ingredient in its own little bundle so it looks pretty when cut (for example all cucumber pieces, all carrot pieces together, etc).
- Serve Fresh: these are best served immediately after rolling. If you need to store them for a short time, cover them with a damp tea towel and plastic wrap to keep them from drying out. Also, it's best to place wax paper in between each piece or leave enough space in between so they don't stick together.
- Serving on a Tray: Make sure to leave enough space between each roll so they don't stick together. You can also arrange them on a bed of lettuce leaves on the tray.
- Prep Ahead - To make things easier, you can cut your veggies, cook the noodles, make the peanut sauce beforehand, then store everything in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2-3 days.
Keep in mind that Fresh Spring Rolls are best enjoyed fresh, as the wrappers may lose their soft texture over time and the veggies won't be as crisp.
However, if you find yourself with leftovers, Wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap or wax paper, making sure they are sealed tightly. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
The beauty of fresh spring rolls lies in their versatility, so don't be afraid to get creative and have fun experimenting with different flavors and textures! Here are some unique and creative add-in ideas:
- Fruit Slices: Add thin slices of fruits like mango or papaya to give a refreshing and slightly sweet twist to your rolls.
- Avocado: Adds richness and a buttery texture that complements the fresh veggies and herbs.
- Bean Sprouts: Crisp and crunchy bean sprouts add a delightful texture and freshness.
- Pickled Vegetables: such as pickled daikon radish, quick pickled red onions, pickled carrots, or kimchi, for a tangy and zesty flavor.
- Edible Flowers: Use edible flowers like nasturtiums or pansies to add a beautiful touch and delicate flavor to your rolls.
- Jicama: Julienned jicama adds a juicy and slightly sweet taste, providing a unique crunch to the rolls.
- Nuts or Seeds: Add a delightful nutty crunch by sprinkling crushed peanuts, cashews, or sesame seeds into your rolls.
Rice paper wrappers can be found in most Asian grocery stores or in the international section of mainstream supermarkets. They are usually sold in the dry goods section.
Yes, rice paper wrappers are naturally gluten-free, consisting of rice flour, water, and sometimes tapioca flour.
They are best served fresh but you can make them ahead of time if serving within a few hours. Wrap each piece individually in wax paper or cling wrap then store them in an airtight container in the fridge.
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Fresh Spring Rolls
Crispy Tofu (optional - see note)
Remaining Spring Roll Filling
- 8 8-inch rice wrappers
- 2 ounces dry vermicelli noodles
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil for drizzling on noodles (optional)
- 1 large red bell pepper , seeded and julienned
- 2 persian cucumbers , julienned
- 1.5 cups finely shredded purple cabbage
- 1 large carrot , peeled and julienned
- 8 large butter lettuce leaves or green leaf lettuce , hard stems trimmed (*see note)
- ⅔ cup fresh mixed herbs such as cilantro, basil, and mint, chopped or leaves left whole.
- 2-3 green onions , sliced thinly
- 1 batch peanut dipping sauce (or prefered dipping sauce)
- 1 Medium Pot
- Cook the vermicelli noodles according to package instructions, then drain and rinse with cold water. Drizzle with sesame oil and set aside.
- Prepare the tofu coating - In a shallow bowl, whisk the cornstarch, salt, and granulated garlic until combined. Cut the pressed tofu into 4 rectangular blocks ½-inch thick then coat each piece in the cornstarch mixture.
- Fry the tofu - Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat for a few minutes. Add the oil and when it’s hot and shimmering, add the tofu pieces, leaving a little space in between each piece. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Be careful not to burn. Slice the tofu into ½-inch thick strips. Set aside.
- Prepare the rice wrappers - Fill a shallow dish or pie plate with warm water. One at a time, dip a rice wrapper in the water and let it soak for about 10 seconds until it becomes soft and pliable (don’t soak too long). Place the soaked wrapper on a clean work surface that is slightly damp. If your wrapper didn't soften enough, just dampen your hands and wet it a little then let it sit for another 5 seconds.
- Add the fillings - Lay down the butter leaf and add the filling ingredients on top (don't overfill). Roll everything up snugly in the lettuce leaf then place it seam-side down on the bottom ⅓ of the rice wrapper closest to you.
- Start rolling the rice wrapper over the lettuce wrap and when you’ve made one full turn, tightly roll up the wrapper, tucking in the sides as you go.
- Repeat with the remaining rice wrappers, lettuce leaves, and filling. Place them on a tray 1-2 inches apart so they don't stick together. Cut spring rolls in half and serve with peanut dipping sauce on the side. Enjoy!
- Tofu - It can be prepared in a variety of ways. Feel free to use store-bought tofu that's already been seasoned and baked (Trader Joe's makes a good one). You can even use uncooked tofu and just season it with salt and pepper.
- Pressing Tofu - Wrap the block of tofu in a few paper towels and place it on a rimmed plate. Add a cast-iron skillet on top (or something equally heavy) and let it drain for 20-30 minutes. Pat dry to remove excess moisture on the surface. You can also use a Tofu Press to make it even easier or purchase vacuum-packed tofu.
- Lettuce - I prefer to use soft and pliable whole lettuce leaves to bundle the ingredients inside before rolling in the rice wrappers (just remember to trim the hard stem). This makes it easier to roll and holds everything together while preventing piercing the rice paper. If you don't have it, you can use shredded lettuce.
- If your wrappers are sticking to your work surface while rolling, lightly moisten the area again. If it's still sticking, use a dampened, lint-free tea towel as your work surface.
- See the post above for step-by-step photos, substitute ideas, extra tips, and FAQs.