I've always been hesitant to try any Asian recipes because whenever I look at the ingredient list, I have no idea what they're talking about (just wait for my post on Miso Soup)! I finally decided to get over this fear and try my hand at one of my favorite appetizers/light lunches-- Spring Rolls. Did I mention these are really healthy? These are really healthy.
This all started when I decided on a whim to take a trip to the Asian grocery store. I used Yelp to find one close to me that had good reviews (although I didn't know what to make of the reviews because most people were praising ingredients I had never heard of). If you live in Salt Lake, I highly recommend (based on no other experience whatsoever..) the South East Supermarket on 422 East and 900 South.
In retrospect, I REALLY wish I had taken pictures while at the market. It was completely overwhelming as most of the labels aren't in English (duh) and I didn't know exactly what I was looking for.The good news is that this store had LOTS of help on staff who were very knowledgeable and friendly. I also noticed that the produce was ridiculously cheap, especially the fresh herbs. Score.
I googled some of my favorite sushi restaurant's menus and looked at the ingredients for their spring rolls and then just went to town buying up ingredients.
Recipe: Spring Rolls
- Bell Pepper
- Rice Noodles
- Rice Paper / Wonton Paper
- Bok Choy
This was also my first time deshelling, deveining, and cooking shrimp. It was no where near as hard as I thought and have no idea why I was so intimidated before. I used this tutorial and was done in no time. Anyway, start with your raw shrimp. I used a half lb. I recently went wade fishing with my family, and my boyfriend had to put the live shrimp on the hook for me because it was just too gross. So it took a bit of courage for me to work with these shrimp even if they are dead. I think it's the eyes.
Peel and devein. It's kind of gross but just remember the shrimp are already dead and can't feel anything. That helps me, anyway. You should have seen Bella's face when I pulled the heads off. I was like," Listen, don't look at me that way. I am not a monster!"
Next, boil the shrimp until they turn.. shrimpy-colored. Like this:
Now they don't look so awful! Now I want to eat them. I also hear you can boil them with shells ON for maximum flavor. I'll have to try that next time.
Next, it's time to make the rice noodles (aka vermicelli). Follow the instructions for your noodles and cook. Drain and set aside. Very easy. Here's a picture of mine in case you don't know what to look for.
After you have the shrimp and noodles cooked, it's time to start chopping veggies! Chop 'em up and pull the leaves off the herbs. Make sure to use small portions, you don't want to bite into a big chunk of anything. I didn't have it but you can also use basil instead of/in addition to mint. Doesn't this look beautiful? A rainbow of goodness.
Carrots, Chives, Bell Pepper, Cucumber, Bok Choy, Sprouts, Mint, Shrimp, Rice Noodles.
Now for the fun part! And by that, I mean the intimidating part. I was pretty anxious about rolling up the noodles and working with rice paper, but once again, it was for nothing. Grab a bowl of warm water for dipping the paper into. Make sure you have everything you need readily accessible so you can work quickly. You can buy rice paper frozen or ready to go. Here's what I used:
Submerge the paper in warm water for about a second or two and place on a flat surface (I used a cutting board.) I put down a layer of rice noodles, veggies, and topped with shrimp along one of the edges. Now roll like a burrito! That means you pull the sides in, then roll up. You'll see that the paper is very sticky and pliable. Much easier than a burrito, actually.
Yum! How pretty do these look? Cut in half and dip into some peanut sauce. You can buy it from the store or make your own. The Asian grocery store had SO many kinds. I didn't love the recipe I tried so I won't be posting it. Sorry.
Ta-da! They tasted delish and were fun to make once I got the hang of it. A Spring Roll Rolling Party seems like a great idea to me. Everyone could pick whatever ingredients they want and make their own dinner. Any dinner where the guests cook for themselves is always a good idea, right?