Saturday, August 22, 2009

The gluten-free lunchbox: Fresh spring rolls

Fresh spring rolls are a quick, easy, and economical sandwich subsitute. It takes a couple of tries to get the hang of handling the delicate rice-paper wrappers, but once you get going, you'll be able to roll a stack of these in just a few minutes. You can find rice-paper wrappers and other specialized ingredients at most Whole Food Markets and asian grocery stores (like Super 88 in Boston). Subsitute about 10 ounces of shredded leftover roast pork or chicken for the shrimp, if you prefer.

Fresh Spring Rolls

Makes 8 rolls

  • 16 dried rice-paper spring roll wrappers
  • 16 large cooked shrimp, split in half lengthwise
  • 1 large carrot, shredded or sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 radishes, sliced thin
  • 4 large leaves of green-leaf or butter lettuce, shredded
  • 8 large fresh basil or mint leaves, sliced thinly
  • 3 ounces cellophane (dried bean thread) noodles
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Whisk rice vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, and honey together in a medium-size bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook the cellophane noodles in boiling water for about one minute, until softened. Drain. Transfer the noodles to the bowl with the rice vinegar sauce, toss gently, and allow to sit until sauce is absorbed (about 5 minutes)
  3. Fill a large shallow bowl 1/2 way with hot water. Layer two rice-paper wrappers together with the textured sides touching, and slide them into the water. Let them soak for 30 to 45 seconds, or until softened all over. Remove them from the water, and lay them out flat, one on top of the other, on a clean, dry cutting board.
  4. Place a small amount of the noodle mixture in the middle of the wrapper, leaving about an inch of space on the right and left sides. Layer on a small amount of lettuce, a bit of the shredded carrot, two or three slices of shrimp, a few slices of radish, and a bit of the basil or mint.
  5. Fold the bottom portion of the wrapper up and over the filling, keeping it as snug as possible without letting the filling slide upward. Fold the right and left sides of the wrapper over the filling, and then roll the spring roll slowly, away from you, to create a log.
  6. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
The trick is to keep the softened wrapper snug without a.) tearing it or b.) slopping the filling out of it. Tip: You need less filling than you think! Since you've soaked the cellophane noodles in the sauce, you don't need to pack sauce on the side, which makes this a great lunch box meal.

(Image is from

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