Monday, August 28, 2006

Fresh Spring Rolls

Some of the things I've craved this pregnancy are forbidden. Like smoked salmon sushi, blue cheese, and soft boiled eggs. But thankfully, some of my cravings are not on the banned list. We'll draw a veil over the naughty ones like coke flavoured lollies, nutella & peanut butter together on a teaspoon (aaarghdon'tlookatthecalories!!!) and cinnamon doughnuts. Actually that last one is, I confess, not really a pregnancy related one. *blush*

ANYWAY - on to the point of the post!

I love fresh spring rolls. There are lots of versions of these. I first had them in a Vietnamese restaurant in Melbourne on the recommendation of my friend C. It was love at first bite. I then tried them again at an excellent Thai restaurant, Mekong Neua in Kingsland. I was keen to make them myself so looked up the recipe somewhere.

Making these is easy but a little fiddly and time consuming. This doesn't bother me. I find such cooking quite meditative or soothing. There is something satisfying about spending the time and effort to create it. It's the same reason I like to make gnocchi or chinese dumplings from scratch.

This is my version. It makes about 20-22 rolls depending on how much filling you have.

Fresh Spring Rolls
  • 500g chicken tenderloins
  • 2 star anise
  • knob of ginger
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • soy sauce
  • water
  • mirin/sake/chinese cooking wine
Peel the garlic and ginger and chop coarsely. Place the chicken, garlic, ginger, star anise into a pot. Add water to cover the chicken and slosh in some soy sauce. How much depends on how dark the soy sauce, and how strong you like the flavour. Add a dash or two of the mirin/sake/chinese cooking wine. Bring to the boil and check to see if the chicken is cooked. Once cooked, drain and leave to cool.
  • Packet of rice "galettes" as they are called on the packet. I get them from my local chinese supermarket. I get the round ones, but they have square ones as well. They are normally near the noodles.
  • 1/3 of 1/2 a cabbage head
  • mung beans
  • 1 large carrot
  • chopped mint (use Vietnamese mint if you can find it)
  • chopped fresh coriander (not everyone likes this so just have the mint if you're one of those people)
Slice the cabbage and carrot very finely - julienne is the term here. If you have a mandoline or nifty Bamix grater then you'll find it handy here. I have to make do with a sharp knife.
Thinly slice the chicken. Boil the kettle so you have some hot water.

Now - the librarian in me forces me to set up my work station like this.
  • Put the cabbage in one pile and the carrot in another on a plate.
  • Plate 1: Fill with hot water from the kettle (I use a bread & butter plate)
  • Plate 2: Dampen with water but don't fill it (I use a bread & butter plate)
  • On the chopping board: A pile of chopped herbs and another separate pile of sliced chicken.
  • In it's bag close by: the mung beans & the rice galettes
The construction process

1. Take one rice galette and place it in Plate 1. Leave to soften which will take maybe 1-2 mins. It will go clear when it's soft.
2. Slide the softened galette off Plate 1 and place it nicely on Plate 2. Put another galette on to soak in Plate 1 while you fill the first one.
3. Place 2 slices of chicken in the middle of the galette lying horizontally. Then add pinches of cabbage, herbs and mung beans. Then add 2-3 carrot sticks.
4. Fold the sides of the galette over the filling. The vertical lines in the diagram below demonstrate which bits to fold over.

5. Now fold the top edge of the galette over the filling and roll the package over the final remaining exposed rice galette so you have a kind of cigar shape cylinder.

Continue constructing others until you've got enough rolls for your needs.

Dipping Sauce

  • Juice of 2 small limes
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1 tsp grated palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • finely chopped fresh coriander & mint
  • finely chopped fresh chilli (if desired)
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1/4 tsp finely chopped ginger

Mix all the ingredients together. Taste and see if the balance between salt/sour/sweet is to your taste; add more lime juice/fish sauce/sugar.

In case you are wondering, yes, DS loves these and eats them with gusto just like me. He doesn't like the filling by itself but when it's wrapped up and dipped in the sauce it somehow magically becomes yummy! ;-) Even though he tells me "I not like mungo beans".

P.S. The filling can be different. The Vietnamese one I had used shredded pork. I make vegetarian ones with marinaded tofu or egg omlette with black seasame seeds. You could use prawns or even thinly sliced beef. Many people use bean vermicelli noodles as a filling too.


  1. OK first - YUM!! Thanks for sharing that recipe. I have had them in cafes but have never made them. Second - I am with on the whole pregnancy banned list - it was the thing I hated most about being pregnant (apart from the morning sickness). Not too much longer to go....

  2. Yummy, Penny these sound awesome...I think I might have to make these for dinner one night this week. I totally agree with you about the things you can't eat when pregnant. I totally, totally craved sushi the whole time i was pregnant with David. It wasn't until i was about 38 weeks that i found out from my midwife that i could have tuna sushi if it was freshly made in front of me and didn't have mayo in it. Maybe something for you to try Penny.

  3. wow an amazing recipe and I loved the way you have set up stations etc......I am not a librarian but can totally realte to being organised.

  4. I can believe it - I first made these about 2 months ago. They are now made every time we have guests around. People are so impressed and, better still, they taste amazing and are really healthy. My favourite filling is chicken breast poached in coconut milk (but I use the lowfat carnation variety)with coriander and another version using rump steak and snow peas. Yum!

  5. oh my goodness - those look amazing!! thanks for sharing the recipe and how to. :)

    and as for nutella....mmmmmm. i haven't had it in ages, but now i want to run out and get some. :)

  6. did you know that as all NZ cheeses are pasturized so therefore they are safe to eat - just check that they are made in NZ. I couldn't have survived without my blue cheese addiction during my pgs!

    thanks for that recipe - looks yum!