In an effort to maintain consistency in this blog, let me say it: THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE FOOD.
No but really.
A few weeks ago we threw Olivia and Katie an engagement party, and this was the one food they requested. I made my usual other party food, chicken salad, pimento cheese, roasted tomatoes, all that, but this was new just for them. Apparently the girls order them a lot at Asian restaurants, and it seemed ridiculous to me that I’d never made them. They’re easy, fun, healthy, and SO delicious. You can make them with almost any ingredient you can think of, and I’ve had versions with pork, shrimp, different herbs, noodles. All of them are equally yummy, so this is really more about the method – how to prep and wrap, etc. The dipping sauces are super key too – they’re ridiculously easy but hugely flavorful.
Let’s roll. Get it? GET IT?!!?
Ok, the wrappers for the spring rolls will be on the Asian food aisle and look something like this. Rice paper wrappers! Easy to work with, hard in the package and soft when you dunk them in water.
Then for the filling, I used tofu with corn starch, cucumber, mint, green onions, carrot, bean sprouts, and arugula. I’ve seen versions of these stuffed with glass noodles, but that seemed redundant to me because of the rice paper wrapper, so I went with bean sprouts to add an extra veg. Healthy!
I did 2 sauces for these. First, red sweet chili sauce straight from the bottle. Then, a hoisin peanut butter sauce with rice vinegar. 2 dipping sauces makes everything feel super legit, you know what I mean?
Let’s make the sauce first. Rice vinegar, peanut butter, and hoisin. Stir, taste, set aside!
Then, we’ll prep the tofu. Heat about 1/2 inch oil in a skillet over medium-high heat for frying. Then, I like to pat it dry with a paper towel, then cut it into sticks about 2/3 inch thick.
Next, coat the tofu in corn starch – this will make it extra crispy!
When the oil is hot (medium-high heat for about 10 minutes does it), drop in the tofu sticks and let them fry on all sides for about 5 minutes. Do this in batches so the tofu has plenty of space to fry and won’t stick together.
When the tofu is golden and crispy let it drain on paper towels.
Now, prep the rest of the roll ingredients! Cut everything into thin matchsticks about the length of the tofu sticks. I’ve made these with arugula and lettuce, and honestly I like both equally, so just use any kind of green you have at home!
Now, once the sauces are done, the tofu is fried, and the veggies are prepped we’re ready to roll! This is the most time consuming part, but it’s not hard at all once you get the hang of it. Prepare a dish with warm water and dunk one of the wrappers in it for about 10 seconds. Take the wrapper out BEFORE it feels soft enough; it’ll keep softening once you take it out of the water. Then, lay the wrapper on a clean kitchen towel.
Arrange a little pile of veggies right in the center of the roll.
Then, top that with one piece of tofu!
To roll, it’s just like a burrito. Sides get pulled in, then roll the wrapper up tightly around the filling.
It takes a few tries, but basically you want to pull as firmly and wrap as tightly as possible without ripping the paper. Some people use 2 wrappers for every roll for added protection, but I didn’t think that was necessary. A key for not having the wrappers tear is to not let them sit in the water too long when you’re softening them. Note the fat baby. NOTE THE FAT BABY.
Now, I think these are best served right when you make them. So, they aren’t great for a big party unless you have a few sets of hands to help you with the rolling. They also get a little bit sticky as they sit, so you might want to spray a plastic container or platter with olive oil or cooking spray as you’re making them so they don’t stick together.
These are SO. GOOD. These are SO. FUN. These are SO. HEALTHY. These are SO. VERSATILE.
Seriously my new fav summer dinner, not even messing. Roll up whatever you have on hand, dip, and eat!
- Sweet chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 18 dried rice paper rolls (they may be called Vietnamese Spring Roll Wrappers)
- 1 brick tofu, cut into 6 planks lengthwise, each plank cut into 3 strips
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- oil for frying
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 3 scallions, julienned
- 1 small cucumber, julienned
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (or basil or cilantro, or a mix!)
- 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 4 cups arugula leaves
- Prepare the sauces. Fill a small dish with some sweet chili sauce for dipping. In a separate dish, combine the peanut butter, hoisin, vinegar, and one tablespoon water until smooth. Taste, and adjust the levels to your preference or add more water if the sauce is very thick.
- Fry the tofu. Heat about 1/2 inch canola or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, toss the tofu with the cornstarch. When the oil is very hot, fry the tofu in batches, not crowding the pan, for about 3 minutes on each side until the tofu is golden. Let the fried tofu drain on paper towels.
- Arrange the tofu, prepared veggies, a clean kitchen towel, and a flat dish of warm water in one area where you will make the rolls. One at a time, dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water for about 10 seconds until it starts to soften. Place the wrapper on the kitchen towel you spread out, then mound it with arugula, bean sprouts, carrot, scallion, cucumber, herbs, and a piece of tofu.
- Wrap the roll like a burrito by pulling the sides over the tofu, then tightly rolling the wrapper around the filling. Repeat until all the ingredients are rolled.
- Serve immediately at room temperature with the 2 sauces for dipping.
- 1. When cutting the veggies, make them about the same length as the tofu strips for easy rolling.
- 2. When softening the rice paper wrappers, take the paper out of the water before you think it's soft enough to roll. It will keep softening out of the water and is less likely to tear if it isn't overly soft.