Crispy Thai spring rolls, crunchy Vietnamese spring rolls and fried shrimp rolls: A spring roll fiesta!

We were recently invited for dinner at one of my friends, where we were spoiled with the most delicious and fresh crispy Thai spring rolls. They were made by my friend’s nanny, who is from the Philippines, and I was intrigued! I never thought of making my own crispy spring rolls, but now I saw it being totally possible. And it seemed to be quite easy too!

So we were inspired, and one recent weekend afternoon we decided to try to make our own. I researched some tutorials, put two and two together, and we set to work. With great, GREAT success!! Our crispy Thai spring rolls turned out to be delicious. We also added an old favourite to the meal: cold, Vietnamese style soft spring rolls, with crunchy raw veggies and soft noodles inside. A perfect combination: the soft and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls balance the hot, crispy Thai spring rolls so beautifully! We also added fried shrimp rolls, another old favourite of mine. (In fact, the first time I ever cooked for Tamar (and won his heart), I served these crispy shrimp roles!)

Vietnam spring rolls

We have since repeated our spring roll fiesta when we had friends over for dinner, and we feel that now we have perfected our recipe and technique. We all participate in the preparation of the meal — chopping, cutting, rolling and frying. Everyone has a task. I love connecting with our kids while we’re cooking!

Initially, the thought of making and deep-frying the spring rolls was daunting, but really — it was much easier than I anticipated. (As most things in life are, haha!) I encourage you to give it a try. Most important is to know is that you can be flexible with the ingredients — a vegetarian option is easily adapted from the below recipe. Just play around with it! Here’s what we did.

spring roll fiesta

Crispy Thai spring rolls

  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Stems of one bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 6 shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 50g vermicelli rice noodles — use
  • 150g grated carrot
  • 150 g thinly sliced cabbage
  • 200g bean sprouts (taugé or the like)
  • (optional: 250g minced meat either chicken, beef or pork. I used 50% pork and 50% beef and it was delicious!)
  • 3 tbl spoons of oyster sauce
  • 2 tbl spoons of fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Spring roll pastry
  • 1 liter vegetable oil (I use arachide/peanut oil)

Prepare the vermicelli noodles as indicated on the package (the one I use just need to soak 4 minutes in hot water).

In the meantime, gently fry the garlic in some oil. After a minute or so, add the minced meat, if using. When the meat is cooked, add the coriander stalks, the mushrooms, the sprouts, the grated carrot and cabbage. Mix through for a minute and take off the heat. Stir through the oyster sauce, the fish sauce and the sugar. Using scissors, cut the rice noodles in smaller pieces, and stir through the mixture as well.

crispy Thai spring rolls

Now it’s time to create the rolls. Carefully, peel off a sheet of the spring roll pastry. Put it in front of you with the corner down (like a diamond). Scoop about two tablespoons of the filling on the lower half of your pastry sheet and shape it in the form of a large cigar. Fold the lower end over the mixture and start rolling from the bottom up. Halfway, fold over the sides. Using a finger, apply egg yolk on the top end before you close the roll. This is easy! I let my kids take on this job — the bigger kids can roll, the smaller ones can peel off the next sheet and apply the egg yolk.

You can prepare the rolls in advance — just keep them cool and under a moist tea towel so they don’t dry out. To deep fry: heat the oil in a big pot. Test if the oil is hot by sticking in an end of a roll — when the oil starts to sizzle it’s ready. Rotating to both sides, cook spring rolls (you can cook quite a few at the time) for around 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Take our using a slotted spoon and let rest on paper towel while cooking the rest. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot — you may have to turn down the heat. When everything is fried, serve immediately!

Soft Vietnamese spring rolls

  • rice paper wrappers
  • 50g vermicelli rice noodles (soaked)

And, all of these or a selection of:

  • cucumber (deseeded and cut in matchsticks)
  • carrot, cut in matchsticks
  • red pepper, thinly sliced
  • spring onions, cut in matchsticks
  • bean sprouts (taugé or the like)
  • cabbage, shredded
  • avocado, thinly sliced
  • salad leaves torn in smaller pieces (I like using purple because it looks so pretty!)
  • coriander leaves
  • mint leaves
  • small shrimps
  • surimi sticks
  • egg omelete
  • chicken strips
  • roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • toasted sesame seeds

Dip a rice paper wrapper in lukewarm water until they are slightly softened but still firm. (Don’t submerge them too long as they will get too soft and tear! The paper will continue to soften after you’ve taken it out of the water.) Place the wrapper in front of you, preferable on a non-poreus surface such as ceramic, stone or plastic. Now place the ingredients of your choice lengthwise on the lower half of the rice paper wrapper. Tighten up a little and start rolling up from the bottom. Halfway fold over the sides and finish rolling. Place on a dish while you roll the rest — but make sure that the rolls do not touch each other as they will stick together! (Again, children are excellent rollers!) I like to cute the rolls in half when I serve them. It looks so pretty!

By the way, you can also place all of the ingredients on the table and let everyone make their own rolls at the table. Do it yourself dinners — so fun and easy!

Crispy Thai spring rolls

Crispy shrimp rolls 

  • 450g jumbo shrimps, raw (from freezer) — peel, but leave the tail on!
  • Spring roll pastry
  • 1 liter vegetable oil (I use the arachide/peanut oil I also use for the Thai rolls!)

Depending on the size of your shrimps, slice your pastry sheet in half or thirds (we always do thirds). Roll the shrimps in the pastry, letting the tails stick out. Deep fry the rolls in the oil you have used for the Thai rolls, until golden brown.

And voila! Your shrimp roll fiesta is nearly ready. You just need some sauces to dip your rolls in! I always serve three sauces with our rolls. The first one is a sweet chili sauce, which I buy ready made. The other two sauces we love are:

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce

  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 small garlic clove, very thinly sliced
  • thinly sliced red chili pepper

Combine all ingredients.

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce

Hoisin dipping sauce

  • 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts (unsalted) (you can also use peanut butter!)
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • a squeeze of lime juice

Combine all ingredients. Serve with a few peanuts sprinkled on top.

ENJOY! Bon appetite. And do let me know how you roll. Haha! 😉

xxx Esther


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