Do you have foods in your life that just make you think of someone? German chocolate cake makes me think of my dad (because it's his favorite, and he requests it almost every birthday). And fresh spring rolls make me think of Elsie. She is a fresh spring roll kind of gal.
So, these are really for her.
I've gotta hand it to her, she has good taste. Fresh spring rolls are delicious, easy to make, and super healthy. They also look really pretty, so they are a fantastic appetizer (or meal, if you make a lot) to serve to friends or family. It's a dish that will impress, it's just so colorful.
And don't even get me started on spicy peanut sauce (also called satay sauce). It's just THE BEST. It's perfect with fresh spring rolls, but it's also awesome as a dressing or on a sandwich, although less traditional, I'm sure.
I can't claim any kind of credit for this version of spicy peanut sauce. I've been making it a goal to learn to cook a few more traditional-style Thai dishes, as I love Thai food. And I'm happy to recommend Simple Thai Food. This book rocks. And that's where this version comes from (slightly changed for a smaller portion, as the original recipe makes a ton!).
But first, let's talk about the spring rolls. You can use all manner of vegetables that you like, but here are a few of my favorites for this: lettuce, cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, and cucumber. Anything that can be chopped up into small matchsticks, do so. You'll also want some bold flavors like cilantro and chives.
I love fresh spring rolls packed with only vegetables. But, if you're looking to make this into more of a meal, you may want to add some kind of protein. I like to use either cooked shrimped (cut in half) or cooked chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans).
Once you've made fresh spring rolls once, you'll already feel like a pro because they are so easy. But, in case you've never made them before, here's a quick photo tutorial for you.
Submerge the spring roll paper in warm water for 20-30 seconds. A pie pan filled with warm water works well here. You'll be able to feel the paper softening under your finger tips, so don't let it soak for too long or it can more easily tear.
Fill with protein (if using), then the bold flavors (cilantro and chives), some veggies, some lettuce, then roll it up. Easy as pie.
Actually, it's WAY easier than pie.
Spicy Peanut Sauce, makes about 1 3/4 to 2 cups.
Recipe from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu
3/4 cup coconut milk (about half a can)
2 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Mae Ploy brand)
1/3 heaping cup natural peanut butter (or make your own)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk as it heats to combine all the ingredients and dissolve the sugar. Bring to a low boil and cook for another couple of minutes.
P.S. Looks like Shutterbean and I had a similar hankering this week. I love her use of miso in the sauce she made. Yum! I'm gonna try that next time for sure.
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.