Now that we know about all of the health bennies of the Thai 5, it’s time to incorporate them into some delicious recipes, and I don’t know anybody who doesn’t love a good spring roll! Rice paper wrappers are available at most supermarkets these days, and once you learn how to make these little guys, your days of waiting for take-out are over.
First, though, the sweet dipping sauce that also serves as the base for our next recipe, Pad Thai Street Noodles.
- Thai Five Blend:
- ¼ c lemongrass, dry outer leaves removed and chopped into 1-inch segments
- ¼ c peeled and roughly chopped galangal – you can substitute ginger if you absolutely can’t find it
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, stacked and chopped finely
- 4 cloves garlic – you can substitute shallot or leave out entirely if you have a garlic sensitivity or allergy
- ¼ c cilantro/coriander leaves, loosely packed
- ¼ c cilantro/coriander stems, chopped
- 1 – 2 teaspoons salt
- Splash water
- Sweet Tamarind Sauce:
- 1 cup tamarind concentrate*
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons Thai Five blend
- ¼ c palm or coconut sugar
- For the Thai Five Blend: First, make your Thai Five Blend by combining all of the ingredients in a food processor and giving it a whirl until it is almost paste-like. You will definitely have to scrape down the sides of the bowl while processing, and can add a dash of water and salt to give it a smoother consistency as well as longer shelf-life in your refrigerator. Transfer into a jar for easier storage.
- For the Sweet Tamarind Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and reduce by ⅓.
- Remove from heat, cool and enjoy! *if you’re working with tamarind pods, making your own concentrate is easy but takes a little time. Combine your volume of tamarind with 4x the volume of water in a saucepan and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and stir occasionally to break up the sticky mass. By the time the water is reduced by two-thirds, the seeds will be easily removeable and you will have a lovely thick tamarind sauce.
While our sauce is reducing on the stove, we can make our spring roll bites. Now, the most time-consuming part of spring roll bites is chopping the fillings, but once you’re done, assembling them is beyond easy. I suggest either laying out a baking tray to hold the fillings, or using individual bowls for a super-neat miss en place at home. Some filling suggestions, to be chopped into very small dice for bite-size, long julienne for regular size:
Apple, basil, broccoli, butternut (steamed), cabbage (red, green, Napa, Chinese), carrot, cilantro, daikon, green beans, lettuce, peas, mango, pineapple, sweet pepper, celery, Asian pear, cauliflower, rice noodles, mint, bean vermicelli, persimmon, papaya (red), shrimp, chicken, pork
If you would have it in a crudité, it’s a good bet that it would be good in a spring roll – although I would not recommend tomatoes!
Now, since we’re going to make bite-size spring rolls, we need to cut our square wrappers that we’ve already purchased into quarters to make smaller squares. We’ll also want to have a vessel larger tan the cut papers with about an inch of cool water standing in it. PRO-TIP: cool water takes a little longer to soften the papers, but makes them much sturdier and easy to work with without tearing.
Soak the paper for 30 – 45 seconds, massaging a little with your fingers to get it nice and pliable. Pop that baby into a little glass or porcelain bowl, where it will keep softening as you fill it. (Pro-tip: when you’re doing a regular sized spring roll, also use a glass or porcelain plate underneath to prevent it from sticking to whatever surface you lay it on. These guys are delicate!) Put a pinch of each filling that you choose into the paper – I like to use herbs first both to protect the paper, but because they look realy pretty, too. Once there are about 1 – 2 tablespoons of fillings, gather the corners of the softened paper like a handkerchief, pinch together, and twist to form a nice little ball.
With regular spring rolls, lay the paper out like a diamond and use the side corners as a midline. Lay your fillings across and when you are satisfied with what’s piled there, bring the bottom corner upwards over the pile. Tuck the end in and pull the mound towards you very gently to tighten the bundle. Roll upwards, then fold the sides in as if you were making a burrito, or envelope style. Roll upwards until the paper is all bound together and place on a plate, topping with a VERY LIGHTLY moistened paper towel until you are finished making your treats!
I dare you to make this without eating half of your product during the process!!