Note: I refer to “spring rolls” as salad rolls.
I’ve rolled (and eaten!) a lot of salad rolls in my life. There’s definitely a technique to it and the more you roll, the better you get. I love eating salad rolls, mostly because I find the do-it-yourselfness of it completely satisfying. You can customize your roll whatever way you want and really, even if you’re not a very good roller, it doesn’t matter because you’re the one who’s going to eat it!
When I found Chang’s recipe for Shrimp Spring Rolls on NYmag.com, I was pretty excited to see what kind of twist Chang put on the traditional roll, but as I read the recipe, I realized that his ingredients would be a little difficult to roll. Usually, when rolling up a salad roll you have a leafy vegetable in between the salad roll wrapper and the filling. The leaf holds everything together and because leaves are soft and pliable, they generally don’t break through the rice paper.
If you’re a salad rolling expert, you don’t need the leafy vegetable and after I broke three rice papers in a row, Mike had pity on me and showed me his superior Vietnamese salad rolling skills. I guess I just haven’t rolled enough salad rolls in my life. Must roll more!
Momofuku Shrimp Spring Rolls adapted from NYmag.com
1/4 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
2 tablespoons sugar
1 bird’s-eye chiles, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pounds shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro, loosely packed, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup mint, loosely packed, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup basil, loosely packed, coarsely chopped
Vietnamese rice paper
PICKLED VEGETABLES: Heat the rice-wine vinegar with 1/2 cup water in a saucepan; add the sugar, mixing until it dissolves. Set aside to cool. Place the carrot into a small containers, cover with the pickling liquid, and set aside for several hours or overnight.
DIPPING SAUCE: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add 1/4 cup water, and mix together well.
Chop the shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces or slice lengthwise with a knife; do not use a processor.
Heat the grapeseed oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in batches, and cook for about 2 minutes, until the shrimp turns pink. Remove from the pan immediately (they will continue to cook). In a bowl, combine shrimp, soy sauce, scallions, black pepper, and sherry vinegar, mix well, and allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Add the herbs to the shrimp just before assembling the rolls.
Fill a large bowl with warm water, and soak one rice paper skin until pliable. On a flat work surface, carefully spread the moistened skin flat. At one end, put 2 tablespoons of shrimp, then cover it with pickled carrots. Fold the sides in, and roll as tightly as possible. Repeat with the remaining skins, stack the rolls on a large platter, and serve with the dipping sauce at room temperature. (These can be made 2 hours ahead and refrigerated.)