This fresh roll and peanut sauce recipe are Vietnamese and Thai-inspired. I’m not sure if these ingredients in this combination would actually be used in either of those cuisines, but I enjoy them. Fresh rolls (also called fresh spring rolls) are one of my favorite foods to make – time-intensive but ultimately satisfying to look at and eat. You can use all sorts of ingredients as filling, but it’s good to have at least a couple of ingredients in each roll that will add some crunch – lettuce, julienned bell pepper or carrots, bean sprouts, etc. Mint leaves as a filler ingredient adds a particularly refreshing note, as does Thai basil if you can get your hands on it. Fresh rolls are best served within an hour or so of making, as they tend to get rubbery when refrigerated.
Note: I haven’t listed quantities below because it all depends on how many rolls you want to make. Any leftover cooked noodles can be mixed with peanut sauce and vegetables as a second meal.
1 package of rice spring roll wrappers
Baked marinated tofu, cut into sticks about the diameter of a pencil (I used Soy Boy Tofu Lin)
1 package of vermicelli rice noodles
Splash of lime juice
Splash of soy sauce
Shittake mushrooms, sliced
Curly leaf green lettuce
Cook rice noodles according to package directions, drain, then put them in a bowl and add a splash of lime juice and a splash of soy sauce. Lay out your filling ingredients where they can be easily accessible.
Put about a 1/2 inch of hot water in a shallow dish (a 10 inch cake pan works well – see the top left photo above), put a spring roll wrapper in and swish around with your fingers until the wrapper is soft and pliable (usually between 10 and 30 seconds).
Remove the wrapper from the water and lay it flat on a plate, being careful not to tear it. Arrange your filling ingredients – lettuce, noodles, tofu, carrots, mushrooms, scallions, and mint – in the middle of the wrapper.
Fold the top and bottom edges over the filling, then one of the two remaining sides, then roll the rest of the wrapper together in a cylinder. The wrapper is tacky enough when wet that it doesn’t need an additional sealant to keep the cylindrical shape.
1 cup chunky peanut butter (the kind that’s just peanuts and salt)
Juice of two limes (minus the splash used in the noodles)
1/4 cup soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey (substitute agave nectar or brown sugar if you want the sauce to be vegan)
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 clove garlic, minced (there are two cloves in the photo, I know, but that was way too garlicky)
Combine the ingredients, using an electric hand mixer to blend them evenly, and whisk in some water if you want the sauce to be runnier. Red pepper flakes or hot sesame chili oil are both good additions if you want a spicier sauce.