My cravings usually don’t contain anything green. Unless maybe it’s pistachio ice cream, in which case, bring it on. I hate to admit it, but for the most part, my food fantasies are unhealthy and processed and, well, disgusting.
Except for spring rolls. I could probably stuff my face with these every day. Years ago, a friend’s mom shared a cheap recipe for fresh spring rolls. They’re a little time consuming to make, but they’re totally worth it.
For about two dozen rolls, you’ll spend less than $10. I went to the Asian market and picked up:
- Head of lettuce: $0.79
- Cilantro: $0.99
- Rice noodles: $1.50
- Rice paper: $1.50
- Tofu: $1.50
- Peanut sauce: $1.50
Variations and Extras
For my recipe, I wanted an upgrade. So I splurged on some fresh shrimp for an extra $8. Kind of pricey, I know. The shrimp-less vegetarian recipe is still damn good.
Also, lots of people like cucumbers and carrots and stuff in their spring rolls. If that’s your thing, go nuts! I’ve used bags of pre-made salads in the recipe, too. Some people also like mint or basil. What I’m getting at is: add/change what you like.
Okay. Let’s get rolling. Here’s roughly how much you’ll need for 12 spring rolls.
2 oz. of rice noodles
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups chopped lettuce
8 oz extra firm tofu
12 large, cooked shrimp
Clean and cook the rice noodles. Boil them for three to five minutes–they soften quickly. Rinse them in cold water, drain and set aside.
While the rice noodles are boiling, I chop up my greens. Then, I pan-fry my tofu. Cut the tofu into strips, then fry them in a light layer of oil and sesame seeds, if you have them.
After all of your ingredients are set out, it’s time to stuff these bad boys.
Fill a large bowl with water. Dip a wrapper into the bowl, immersing it in water for a few seconds. It may still be hard–that’s okay, it’ll soften.
Lay the wet wrapper flat on a plate. Then, add your ingredients. Across the center of the wrapper, add a small handful of noodles, lettuce, cilantro and tofu. If you’re going with the shrimp, toss in a shrimp.
Leave a couple of inches open along the top and bottom edge. Then, fold those edges up to meet in the middle (see photo). Roll the whole thing tightly; the wrapper should stick to itself.
Congrats, pal. You just spring rolled. Repeat eleven more times, or until you have enough rolls to make your stomach happy. Dip in peanut sauce and bask in the fresh (and cheap!) goodness.