Fresh Rolls

Somedays, I think I could live off Fresh Rolls. It's hard get tired of them. They're light and tasty. Easy to make. Good portions. Versatile. What's not to love? These make a perfect appetizer, meal, or snack. If you're looking for something reasonable to eat, I highly recommend!

Of course, no fresh roll would be complete without some yummy peanut sauce. I'm always in the pursuit of the perfect peanut sauce. I found this one and I like it better than the one from Love and Olive Oil that I've used in the past. The best veggie Fresh Roll in this area is from Bangkok 54 located in Arlington, VA. Theirs are made with tofu, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, and avocado. Check it out some time.

Note: it's hard to give exact measurements because it depends on how many you want to make. Best way to do the math and is ask yourself, "how many do I want to make?" Also, there is a difference between Thai basil and regular basil. You'll probably have to go to a global store to find some but it's worth it. The taste is more assertive and less sweet.

This makes about 16 rolls.


24 Shrimp- peeled, deveined, and cut in half
about 1/4 cup Thai basil
about 1/4 cup mint
4 big lettuce leaves, chopped
4 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
about 1/4 cup bean sprouts
16 rice wrappers (8.5 in diameter)

Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, ground, for garnish
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chili paste or sriracha sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
3/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter (or more)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce

For the rolls... Put some water to boil in a small sauce pan to cook the shrimp. Peel, clean, and devein the shrimp. There are 2 veins to look for, the one on the back and the one on the inside (see below). Some people don't devein them- it's up to you. Break the spine of the shrimp by gently bending or making a small cut on the spine. When the water reaches a gentle boil, add the shrimp. The shrimp will turn into a soft pink/orange color signifying they're cooked. Drain and set to the side.

Once they have cooled, cut them in half down the middle. If you cut them before you cook them, they will shrivel up. They are still good to eat but annoying to work with.

In a larger pot, put water to boil. Once it reaches a boil, dump the noodles in. Lower the heat slightly and cook for about 8 minutes. Drain.

Take a wide, shallow pan or bowl and fill with warm water to dip the rice paper. Don't use hot water because it can 1) burn your finger tips and 2) sometimes the rice wrapper will fold in on itself.

Set up your work station like an assembly line. You'll have your basil, lettuce, bean sprouts, and mint ready to go. Noodles check. Shrimp check. Have one plate in front of you for wrapping and another to set your completed rolls.

Take the rice wrapper and submerge in the shallow pan/bowl of warm water. Set down on your plate so it's flat and even. Take a small handful of noodles and place about an inch from the outside of the rice wrapper that is closest to you. If you place it in the middle- you cannot really 'roll' it. By placing it closer, you can wrap easier.

Place a few bits of the mint, basil, lettuce, and bean sprout. Lastly, add the shrimp. I like to use 1 and half shrimp per roll. It's all up to you.

Once you are satisfied with the contents of the roll, firmly but gently roll ONCE so all of the contents are encased in the rice paper. Like you're wrapping a present, fold the outside edges of the roll in. By doing this, you wrap the edges inside the roll so it's nice and solid. If you just wrap the roll and then fold in the excess wrapper, it would not hold together very well. Sometimes the rice wrapper can tear, don't worry. That's normal.

To make the peanut sauce.... Heat the oil slowly and add the garlic, and chili paste. Fry until garlic is golden brown. Add the broth, sugar, peanut butter, and hoisin sauce, and whisk to dissolve the peanut butter. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Garnish with the ground peanuts.