Hello, welcome to Djalali Cooks! Today I have a simple recipe that is great as an appetizer or a light lunch. It’s easily customizable and you can make them vegetarian, if you like. Commonly, we see Fresh Spring Rolls with cooked shrimp, today I have gone with pan-fried Spam. This idea is not my own. When I worked in Silicon Valley, I often went to a Vietnamese restaurant called Kobe Pho & Grill, for lunch and they had Fresh Spring Rolls with Spam, and they are delicious! Let’s get right to it!
The longest part of this recipe is prepping the veggies. We have two small carrots and half of a long English cucumber. I tend not to be too precious when it comes to julienne-cutting my veggies. Begin by quartering the cucumber and carrots; slice them in half cross-wise, then in half again lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds of the cucumber with a spoon, then slice each half again lengthwise – just to make the pieces more manageable for slicing thinly.
Approach the carrot the same way; slice into manageable pieces, then slice thinly.
You can use cooked and cooled rice instead of rice vermicelli, if you like. To make with rice vermicelli: Get a pot with 2 quarts of water boiling and when it’s boiling, turn off the heat, drop in the rice vermicelli, cover with a a lid a let the vermicelli noodles sit in the hot water for 10 minutes. Then drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Spread the noodles on a sheet tray or plate to let them cool and dry.
This is an easy peanut sauce that makes a great dipping sauce for our Fresh Spring Rolls. It would also make a great marinade or sauce for tossing with chicken and veggies.
It starts with peanut butter, I went with natural peanut butter because it has a super peanutty flavor and no added sugar. Then we have pressed or grated garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil and honey or maple syrup. I went with hot honey, just to give a little extra spice. Stir all of these ingredients together and add warm water, a tablespoon at a time to thin it out to your liking.
This is where you can get really creative. Use leftover cooked chicken, cooked shrimp, tofu, leftover steak, cooked tempeh, or stick with me and go with pan-fried Spam. Whatever protein you go with, just slice it into thin pieces that will roll easily into the Fresh Spring Roll.
For the Spam, I sliced the block of Spam in half lengthwise, then sliced each half into thin, flat pieces. In a skillet over medium heat with just a little oil, I lightly fried on both sides, to a light golden brown. Transfer the fried slices to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool while you prep your rolling station.
Assembling the Fresh Spring Rolls
Fill a shallow dish or pie plate with water and place a rice paper wrapper in the water, one at a time. It only takes about 10-20 seconds for the rice paper wrapper to soften. You only want to let it sit in the water until it’s pliable, if it gets too soft, it will tear and be generally uncooperative.
For my veggie filling, I have butter lettuce leaves, the prepped carrot and cucumber, the cooled rice vermicelli, along with fresh basil and cilantro leaves. You can go with bean sprouts, cabbage and mint too. Purple cabbage makes a really nice color combination.
Spread the softened rice paper wrapper flat on your work surface. Then, start with the lettuce leaf, placed horizontally along the bottom third of the rice wrapper. Then top the lettuce leaf with veggies and the rice vermicelli. Top with the fresh herbs. I am going to tuck two slices of pan-fried Spam along the top edge of the veggies.
We are going to roll this Fresh Spring Roll like a burrito: fold the bottom of the wrapper over the veggie filling; Then fold each side over to make an envelope.
Don’t worry if it’s not perfect! Then take the bottom and tightly (but not too tightly!), roll the bottom up and over itself. Keep rolling until the top third of the wrapper is wrapped over the roll.
Place the rolls on a sheet of parchment while you assemble and roll the remaining rolls. You should be able to get 6 or 8 rolls. But make as many or as few as you need or want. They do keep well overnight, covered in the fridge. Serve with the peanut sauce.
And there you have it! Fresh flavors come together for a light meal, snack or appetizer. Customize the filling to accommodate leftovers, or a fridge clean, these Fresh Spring Rolls are super simple. And don’t worry about nailing the roll, they don’t have to be perfect to be delicious!
For another healthy Vietnamese-inspired recipe, try Vietnamese Pork Patties. Be sure to pin this recipe to Pinterest to save for summer, these rolls make a great picnic snack! Thank you all for spending some time with me today! Take care and be well, xo Kelly
Fresh Spring Rolls
Fresh Spring Rolls are simple to prepare and easy to customize. Fresh flavors come together to create a healthy light meal or snack.
- 1-2 Carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1/2-1 Cucumber, seeded and julienned
- Lettuce Leaves
- Rice Vermicelli
- Fresh Herbs like, Basil, Cilantro and Mint
- Protein, like cooked Chicken, Cooked Shrimp, Tofu or pan-fried Spam
- Rice Paper Wrappers
- Options: Bean Sprouts, Cabbage
- Peanut Sauce
- 1/3 cup Natural Peanut Butter
- 2 tbsp. Rice Vinegar
- 2 tbsp. Tamari or Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp. Honey or Maple Syrup
- 1 tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
- 2 Cloves Garlic, pressed or grated
- 2 to 3 tbsp. Water, as needed
Fill a shallow dish or pie plate with water and place a rice paper wrapper in the water, one rice sheet at a time. It only takes about 10-20 seconds for the rice paper wrapper to soften. You only want to let it sit in the water until it's pliable, if it gets too soft, it will tear and be generally uncooperative.
Spread the softened rice paper wrapper flat on your work surface. Then, start with the lettuce leaf, placed horizontally along the bottom third of the rice wrapper.
Then top the lettuce leaf with veggies and the rice vermicelli. Top with the fresh herbs.
Tuck your protein along the top edge of the veggies.
Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the veggie filling.
Then fold each side over to make an envelope.
Take the bottom and tightly (but not too tightly!), roll the bottom up and over itself. Keep rolling until the top third of the wrapper is wrapped over the roll.
Place the rolls on a sheet of parchment while you assemble and roll the remaining rolls.
Serve with the peanut sauce.
The Fresh Rolls keep well overnight, covered in the fridge.
Stir all ingredients (except water) together in a small bowl.
Then add water, one tablespoon at a time, to thin out the sauce to desired consistency.