There are many many recipes for spring rolls, fresh and fried. This is a simple one I prepare for the kids when they are craving something small and crunchy. I like eating these wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in nuoc cham. It can be served with other dishes as part of a meal, or as appetizers.
1 package Vietnamese banh trang
1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and mashed to a paste with a large pinch of salt
1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) – optional
freshly ground white pepper to taste (black pepper is an acceptable substitute)
large pinch sugar
salt to taste
other optional ingredients: chopped fresh water chestnuts, chopped carrots, chopped jicama — for crunch
Oil for frying
Combine the above in a large bowl. Prepare another deep dish of warm water to dip the banh trang in.
For a quick dipping sauce, whisk the following to taste. What you want is a good balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.
Lime juice and/or rice vinegar
Sriracha or garlic-chili paste (or use freshly minced garlic + finely chopped Thai chili)
Water for thinning if necessary
Lettuce leaves for serving
Dip banh trang — one at a time — for a few moments in the water, feeling the ridges with your fingers. When the ridges start to disappear and/or the banh trang is soft and pliable, it’s ready for wrapping. Lay it flat on a cutting board and spoon about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the pork or turkey mixture in a cylinder shape about 1/2 inch in diameter, all along the length of the wrapper.
Roll it up gently, wrapping wrapper tightly around the filling. The ends can be left open as the rolls will be cut anyway. Cut the wrapped roll into 2 1/2 to 3-inch pieces. Set aside on a baking sheet or flat dish.
I wrap and fry at the same time, using a cast iron skillet and keeping the oil at least 3/4 inch high. You can either cut the rolls into pieces before or after frying.
Fry rolls in hot oil over medium-high heat, 6-8 minutes total or until golden brown, turning several times to keep coloring even. Remove to a baking sheet or dish lined with paper towels to drain. I like to put these in a warm oven until all are fried.
Serve with lettuce leaves and the dipping sauce.
The same recipe can be used to make spring roll wrappers using wheat flour wrappers, which can usually be found in the freezer section of your Asian supermarket. I like Spring Home (pink label) or Wei Chuan brand (red label), or the large square ones that come in the bag with the large blue label (sorry, can’t remember which brand that is).
A fun docu of how rice paper wrappers are made. — You might want to show your kids!