Monday, June 11, 2012

Asian Salad Spring Rolls

Several years ago, a friend offered to bring soup to my house to share for lunch.  When she asked what kind I like, I told her most everything, so bring whatever she wanted and surprise me! She wowed me by bringing a wonderful ginger rice soup with fresh vegetables from International Market (a local Asian market/diner) along with a little carton of fresh veggie spring rolls with a super tasty sweet-sour-peanutty sauce for dipping.  I loved it.  I could have dipped anything in that sauce and been happy.  I began to crave this flavorful, unique and very healthy meal.

A few years later, I was looking on Pei Wei's website (P.F.Chang's more casual restaurant- if you aren't familiar) to check out the nutritional information and see what might be my healthiest option.  I found these Vietnamese Chicken Salad Rolls.  When I tasted them, I realized they were much like those yummy spring rolls from the International Market, but with chicken in addition to the veggies.  They too are served with a sweet chile sauce that is super tasty as well as a peanut sauce for dipping.

I decided they couldn't be too difficult to make, so I attempted these at home.  They worked! 
My philosophy about these spring rolls is much like my philosophy on Wraps (which I wrote about a few weeks ago) but with an Asian twist.  I look at all the veggies and herbs I have and see what I think would be tasty together (and what my eaters might eat) and throw it in rice paper and wrap it up.

And the sauce is really key.

I think we have had these 3 times, and I have tweaked the sauces each time.
I have bought some, made some and doctored up some bought sauces.
We have served it with soy sauce, peanut sauce, duck sauce (sweet and sour), and sweet chili sauce.  A favorite is duck sauce with a few drops of Sriracha and some chopped peanuts!

Just like a good salad dressing really makes the salad, the sauces for these veggie-filled rolls  makes them so tasty!

Here's what you do:

The wraps can be filled with: 

  • cooked chicken (we have used rotisserie chicken from the grocery), 
  • herbs (basil, cilantro, mint), 
  • veggies (shredded carrots, cabbage, scallions, cucumbers, leafy lettuce),
  • skinny rice noodles (which come in bundles and are soaked for a few minutes in water to hydrate)
  • chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime if you'd like.

rice paper dry

First, prep the fillings (washing, cutting, chopping, etc.)  If you are including rice noodles as a filling, prepare those.

soaking rice paper  (these are Dave's hands, FYI- this is a tricky process
to photograph while doing)
Then, individually soak rice paper (which I buy at the International Market but is also available on the International Aisle at the local grocery) following the soaking directions on the package.

Prepare rice paper one at a time and fill with the goodies of your choice.

pile it on
Wrap them- tucking in the ends and then gently and securely rolling them up.  (The paper sticks nicely to itself.)

Place on a plate.

Prepare sauces.


These can be made ahead and refrigerated too, which is nice.

peanuts in sweet chile sauce

We have been eating ours accompanied by steamed edamame and rice and sometimes sliced melon or other fruit. (Since I believe fruit goes with every meal).

Our favorite twist on rice when serving Asian dishes is to prepare the rice with Coconut Milk as the majority of the liquid in place of water.  My friend Melissa S. introduced us to this when she came for dinner a couple of years ago.  I feared it would taste too coconutty and "obvious" for my kids, but it doesn't. It is creamy and tasty and adds such a nice subtle difference to the rice.  You must try it!
I just add a can of light coconut milk to my rice.  If I am making 2 cups of rice, I use the can's amount (usually about 2 cups milk) and use water for the remaining 2 cups of liquid called for with 2 cups of dry rice.  (And a sprinkling of kosher salt).

Don't be afraid to try making these Salad Spring Rolls!
It is really not difficult.
It's actually fun and beautiful.  And it is perfect for the warm days of summer.
And my kids really like it.  (Though last time Asher told me I went a little heavy on the cilantro.  I think I was so excited that my cilantro was growing in my garden that I didn't hold back.)


  1. This looks delicious and so healthy! I am going to try these soon!

  2. A resounding "yum" around the meal table for tonight! Thanks for reminding me about these.

    Here's the sauce I use, taken from my Korean mother-in-law who makes her own Korean version of these rolls:
    2-3 tspn sugar OR few tspn fresh pineapple juice
    mixed with a few Tbsp fish sauce (dissolve sugar with boiling water)
    add a dash of white vinegar
    add some squeezes of lemon/lime juice
    slice up some fresh chillies
    = makes a salty/sweet/sour/spicey sauce. We love it!

  3. yum, Julie! these look amazing. and I bet they can be listed gluten-free, if I'm correct in my gluten assessment...

    thanks for sharing, i would love to make these.

  4. Hi Kristi! Yes, I think they would be/could be gluten free. And you can pack them with whatever you like and dip them in whatever you like!
    Let me know how it goes.