Saturday, October 15, 2005

Strugglin' With Spring Rolls

I love Vietnamese spring rolls--the tangy bite from the fresh mint leaves, the bright zestiness from the basil layered in the filling, and the cool, crisp texture of the chilled iceberg lettuce when accompanied by the crunchy, ocean-seasoned shrimp. This dish exemplifies the freshness of the "spring" season, when gardens are infused with the fragrance of the blooming flowers; the herb plants are abundant with rich, leafy greens; and fruits buckle off the trees at the slightest jostle.

However, just because I voraciously consume these lil' snacks, does not mean I like making them. Whenever I make them, they end up looking like mutated franken-fritters. (See images above and below.)

These pictures do not do justice of how hard it is to handle the delicate and sticky film wrapper. The tenuous wrapper snags and tears open like nylon stockings catching on a jagged fingernail. For those of you unfamiliar with nylons, I would compare it to handling an aged rubber balloon that has been exposed to the sun after sitting in a windowsill for several years.

Unfortunately, until I master the art of "rice wrapper manipulating," I will be relegated to purchasing these rolls at one of those delicious Vietnamese sandwich shops in the Tenderloin District, or only making the rolls when I have a full day off work and two full days of patience.


  1. Hi passionate eater person! hope ur pics turned out from banana island ;)


  2. Thanks Anonymous-TC! The pictures came out pretty well, and I should be posting them online soon. I also figured out how to delete unwanted comments Anonymous-TC, so you won't see that "Enlargement" comment I was telling you about earlier.

  3. try soaking the wrappers until just pliable, and when they are still kinda wet they roll better than if you soak them all before and then try to handle them when they are dry.

    also try using less filling.

    hope that helps.

  4. Thank you WendyKat! I'll definitely try those great suggestions.

    I do go crazy with the filling, and I have difficulty getting those bean sprouts to lay like behaved-matchsticks, straight across the wrapper. I'll try putting less of those in next time. Thanks again for the nice post.

  5. i'm sorry but i dont think those are correctly called spring rolls. being from a vietnamese background those are correctly called 'goi cuon' or rice paper rolls. spring rolls are of the deep fried kind.

  6. Thank you for your lesson Anonymous! I've always called them "spring rolls" and I've called the fried kind "egg rolls," but I've never known the direct translation.

  7. If you ever visit an Asian market, you may find a plethora of different brands (and kinds) of rice paper.

    I get the rice paper that has tapioca as one of the ingredients and I think it helps it to not tear so easily. My non-Asian boyfriend with clumsy fingers is thankful for this. Also, another tip that I may offer is dipping the rice paper and take it out immediately. In and out, making sure the entire paper is wet. The paper may still be hard when you lay it down to fill it up, but it will get soft as you fill it.

    Lastly, practice makes perfect! And if you eat your results, no one will ever know what kind of mistakes you made! :)


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