Thai Fresh Spring Rolls

These are amazing. You can prepare some of the ingredients ahead of time (julienne the carrots, for example), but you should plan on executing the rolls only shortly before consuming them because they dry out, stick and generally just do not keep.

Hosting a party? Entertain your guests by those who are on board with the idea how to roll their own. It makes your inability to prepare this dish ahead of time seem to be on purpose—which it is.

Yield: 4 people

Ingredients

8 rice papers
1 cup rice stick noodles
½ cup Thai basil leaves, whole
16 sprigs cilantro, stems removed
4 leaves green-leaf lettuce
½ cup grated or julienned carrot
1 cup bean sprouts
Optional ingredients
½ cup mint
8 prawns (pre-cooked and sliced axially or in half head to tail)
1 cup shredded chicken (pre-cooked)

Preparation

1.Perform a mise en place of all ingredients in this order:

- lettuce leaves
- rice stick noodles (see below)
- basil leaves
- mint leaves (optional)
- cilantro sprigs
- bean sprouts
- carrot
- meat or shrimp (optional)

2. Soak rice stick noodles in warm water 5-10 minutes. Boil some water in a small pan, drain the noodle and plunge into boiling water 1 minute. Drain and add to mise en place in second position.

3. Fill a large bowl with very warm (but not boiling) water for dipping rice paper.

Execution

1. Immerse one rice paper into the bowl of water for about 10 seconds (mo more). Lay moistened rice paper on a cutting board (or other surface to which it won't stick).

2. One inch from the edge closest to you, pile the ingredients from the ordered mise en place listed above: one leaf of lettuce, 3-4 basil leaves, 2-3 mint leaves, 2 sprigs cilantro and the others as you learn will fit into the roll.

3. In the manner of a fried spring roll or a Mexican burrito, fold the edge closest to you over the ingredients and grab the result to pull it gently toward you tightening the roll. Then, fold in the side edges and finish rolling the whole with the remaining rice paper.

The resulting roll will be translucent revealing its contents. Set on a moist plate.

Serving

Serve with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, such as you'd serve with fried spring rolls, with a Thai Sweet Sauce, or with a sweet Thai peanut sauce.