I was never good at preparing spring rolls which was frustrating, because I love them so much. Every couple of months I would try it again to see if my rice paper skills had improved. Sadly they had not. So, most of the time I just drop by Whole Foods and pick up the vegetarian spring rolls from the sushi case. The other day I dropped by and they were out of the vegetarian rolls in the case, so I asked the gentleman behind the counter if he would mind preparing an order for me. I started to go shop while he worked, but I became mesmerized. I watched him cut and prepare the ingredients for the filling. I watched as he quickly dipped the rice paper (spring roll wrapper) in cold water. I must have looked shocked. I had no idea that's how you treated rice paper. I always soaked them until they were soft then tried to fill them. Whenever I did that they were always mushy and would tear as I attempted to roll them. This was a revelation.
The next day I had to try it at home. I prepared my sauce and my filling then got out the rice paper wrappers. I filled a large pie plate with cold water and dipped the dried wrapper in for just a few seconds. I did make sure to wet the entire surface. the wrapper was still rigid as I placed it on the cutting board and began stacking ingredients in the center. By the time I had everything on the wrapper it was pliable but not mushy. Amazing! All I had to do is to fold each end over and roll it up like a burrito. Now that I know how to use them I dream of different combinations of flavors I can wrap up in these amazing little things.
spring roll filling:
chopped green onion, sliced roma tomato, basil leaves, cilantro, rice stick noodles, sunflower sprouts, tofu, and cucumber matchsticks.
For the spicy peanut sauce:
Whisk together 2 tablespoons each of chunky peanut butter, mirin, soy sauce, sriracha, and water. This is a wonderful sauce that hits so many notes: sweet, salty, and spicy.
For the baked tofu:
1 block firm tofu (sliced in 12-16 pieces)
spicy peanut sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a silpat lined baking sheet with a few tablespoons of sesame oil and arrange tofu slices on the sheet. Brush the tofu with the peanut sauce. Stick it in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the surface begins to look caramelized. This recipe is great in banh mi sandwiches as well.