Fresh Spring Rolls
    Prepare individual dishes of any combination of the following:
pork, sliced thinly and steamed or sauteed
prawns, steamed and shelled
asparagus, very lightly steamed, rinsed in cold water, and patted dry
avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices
mango, peeled and sliced thinly
carrots, cut into 3" lengths and sliced into thin strips
daikon radish, cut into 3" lengths and sliced into thin strips
green onions, cut into 3" lengths and sliced into thin strips
cucumber cut into 3" lengths and sliced into thin strips
red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
sauteed fresh shitake or portobello mushrooms
rice noodles, steeped in boiling water until soft, rinsed in cold water, and drained
lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
fresh water cress
fresh mint leaves
fresh basil leaves
fresh cilantro
roasted peanuts
toasted coconut
fresh lime, sliced into thin pieces and quartered, with the peel on
hoisin sauce (chinese plum sauce)
 
    Prepare:
rice paper wrappers
    by soaking them briefly in water, then placing them on individual plates to soften.
 
Place any combination of ingredients at the near end of the softened rice paper.  Roll carefully, but tightly.  It is not necessary to close the ends.  Don't overstuff them or they will be difficult to roll without tearing them.  Slice in half or thirds and serve with Peanut Dipping Sauce.
Notes & Variations:
  1. We found a variety of rice papers, but preferred the 9" round ones.
  2. Jozseph Schultz, reknowned Santa Cruz chef, recommends sauting fresh portobello or shitake mushrooms with garlic, chili, & star anise.  You can also reconstitute dried black mushrooms by soaking in hot water for a few minutes, and slice them.  In either case, remove the stems, as they tend to be tough.  You can boil the stems, along with shrimp shells, to make the shrimp stock used in the peanut sauce below.
  3. You can keep rolled spring rolls in the refrigerator overnight by placing them on a plate and covering them with a moistened dish towel.
  4. It's fun to let your guests roll their own spring rolls.  Our  What's For Dinner? New York Correspondent, Susan Green, says, "You can tell a lot about a person by what they put in their spring roll!"
  5. We recommend the following combinations:
    • portobello mushroom, avocado, carrot, daikon, rice noodle
    • prawns, lettuce, mint, lime, cilantro, toasted coconut, peanuts
    • asparagus, green onion, red pepper, rice noodle, basil
    • prawns, mango, avocado, cucumber, water cress

Peanut Dipping Sauce
Grind in a food processor or electric coffee grinder:
1/4 c roasted unsalted peanuts
 
Combine the ground peanuts with:
1/4 c thick coconut milk
1/4 c shrimp stock
1 t nam pla (fish sauce)
1 t sugar
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 T hoisin sauce (chinese plum sauce)
1/8 t dried hot chili flakes
Notes & Variations:
  1. Experiment with the proportions to get a sauce you like.  Try it without the hoisin sauce.
  2. If you only have salted peanuts, rinse them before grinding.
  3. Shrimp stock is made by simply boiling raw shrimp shells and straining the stock.  Frozen, it lasts for months.