You know what really sucks? Living in Beijing. I recently read that Mandy Lee from Lady and Pups was leaving and I just sat there in jealousy. Seriously, imagining not living in Beijing anymore is a dream come true. No more hazy days where I feel like every breath I take is killing me from inside. No more screaming (literally) when my VPN refuses to work and I can’t get on Google, WordPress, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and random, innocent websites (IBguides? I’m just trying to study!). No more mini heart attacks every time I’m on the road in a hurry as my mom expertly swerves around inexperienced taxi drivers. No more being in taxis, without the option of seat belts, that make me gag or hold my breath – depending on whether it smells like bad breath or smoke. I could go on.
But I won’t.
Because I’m here now to appreciate the fact that it’s more or less “Spring”. Spring in Beijing is that awkward one or two week transition where everyone starts to realize that they’re wearing way too many layers, and once they realize, Summer’s already a day away. In other words, Spring is pretty much nonexistent. I’m pretty sure that Spring ends this week (and started last week). Last week, I was still wearing somewhat-thick jackets, and today half the school showed up in shorts.
Well, that was quite an introduction.
Anyways, I’ve been saving this spring roll recipe for spring (ha ha…I’m so lame), and I figured that now’s the time to share this recipe with you!
But let’s move on from living in Bejing (*cringe*) and move on to these spring rolls (*smiles*).
I’m not really the kind of person who puts together savory recipes often, but do you ever just realize that you have the perfect ingredients to make a dish, and feel obliged to make it? Yeah. We had leftover boiled shrimps in the freezer, rice paper and rice noodles in the cupboard, purple cabbage, cucumber, and lettuce in the fridge, and my mint plant was thriving. How could I resist?
So, I spent the morning making spring rolls (which, by the way, is quite a calming and enjoyable task, if you ask me), and had them for lunch with my grandparents. We were so full by the end of it, because we shared about a dozen big, fat spring rolls among the three of us. Then again, I didn’t feel guilty afterwards, because the ingredients that go into these spring rolls are pretty damn healthy. Plus, especially with the weather warming up, it’s always refreshing to eat (almost) raw foods 🙂
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Makes about 8-10 spring rolls (depending on size)
- 16-20 rice paper wrappers**
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 200g cooked shrimps, peeled and sliced in half lengthwise
- 14 lettuce leaves
- 1/2 small purple cabbage, sliced
- 2 cups cooked rice vermicelli
Dipping sauce (optional***)
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon grated carrots
*The ingredients are ALL an approximation only. You might end up with extras of certain things depending on how much stuff you put into each spring roll, but if you ask me, I’m totally fine with having a rice paper stuffed with just lettuce and vermicelli…
**Halve this number if you only want to use one rice paper per roll. They’re prettier with just one layer of rice paper but they’re more likely to break
***When I’m feeling lazy I just mix together vinegar (the kind you dip dumplings in) and soy sauce at about 2-3 parts soy sauce and 1 part vinegar
- For the spring rolls, prepare a surface by laying out a clean tea towel. Fill a large bowl with warm water and dip one or two rice papers in the water and soak until they soften, then spread the rice papers on the tea towel
- Near the bottom, alternate between placing 3/4 mint leaves and 3/4 shrimp halves
- Add a lettuce leaf, then add the purple cabbage, rice vermicelli, more mint, and whatever other fillings you’d like, before covering it with another lettuce leaf. Make sure that you only fill a rectangle of the rice paper that takes up about 1/3 of the rice paper
- Fold the sides of the rice paper in and roll it together very tightly
- For the dipping sauce, in a saucepan, combine rice vinegar, fish sauce, water, and sugar, and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool before adding garlic and carrots
****I probably should’ve taken step-by-step photos but I didn’t…if you’re unsure about how to wrap the spring rolls, these photos might help