Thai Basil Recipe: Summer Rolls With Fresh Home Grown Herbs
Summer is just around the corner and that means picnics in the park, BBQs and rosé. Yes. Please.
Inspired by Vietnamese street food; these delicious herb-filled Spring Rolls (also known as Summer Rolls, or to the locals Goi Cuon) are easily elevated with the addition of fresh home-grown herbs. They go well with Thai basil, cilantro and mint – but you can easily sub these out for microgreens and many other leafy green herbs. If you really want to impress your friends, add some grilled shrimp – straight off the grill.
How To Make Fresh Spring Rolls
- Rice Paper Rolls. You will find these in most supermarkets, but Asian specialty stores are likely to have a better range. You want the large size (we used 28cm ones in our accompanying YouTube video). 2-3 sheets per person as an appetizer.
- Greens. Lettuce is common, but we prefer to use fresh herbs. Thai basil, mint and cilantro are the most common options, but we also used some lemon basil for ours as well as doing a version with microgreens. You’ll need about 1/2 cup per roll.
- Vegetables. Our favorite here is carrot, which you will want to julienne into thin strips. Peppers and cucumber also work well. 1 carrot is good for about 8 rolls.
- Noodles. These can be either the thin/angel-hair style, or thicker ones that look more like linguine.
- Something crunchy. You have two main options here – either crushed peanuts or fried shallots.
- Protein. We made ours with some sauted mushrooms, but the more traditional options are chicken, pork or shrimp.
You are probably going to understand this more quickly by watching our accompanying video, but the basic steps are:
Prepare all your ingredients
- For the veggies this means slicing them very thinly into little pieces, about 5-6cm long
- Your greens will want to be cleaned and dried
- Your protein should be cooked
- And the rice noodles should be al dente. When you take these off (after 4-6 minutes) make sure you cool them down immediately with cold water, otherwise they will continue to cook and you’ll end up with a gluggy mess.
Rolling the Spring Rolls
- Use a clean wooden chopping board for this, which we recommend you keep damp through the process. If the board gets too dry then your rice paper sheets will stick to it.
- One at a time, remove the rice paper sheets from the packet and dunk them for a few seconds in luke warm water. We do not recommend hot water for this, as it tends to soften them too quickly. Remember your chopping board is wet too, so its ok if they still feel a tad rigid after they’ve been dunked. It’s much easier to add water than it is take it away.
- With the rice paper sheet spread out, start placing the ingredients on top. Start with your most colorful ingredients first, so that when you are done rolling they end up on the outside.
- Add the noodles last – they are the least visually interesting of the ingredients, so it’s ok if they end up in the center of the roll.
- In order to wrap these things up, you want to start from the edge closest to you, and do one full fold. Then bring in the left and right edge, and continue rolling it the rest of the way. Tuck your fingers underneath the roll as you are doing this so that the roll ends up tightly wrapped.
Spring Roll Peanut Sauce
As we mentioned in the video, there are two main sauce options. Peanut/Hoisin and Fish Sauce with lime and honey. Let’s start with Peanut/Hoisin!
- Lightly saute 1 clove of garlic in small saucepan
- Add 1/2 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce. Continuing whisking over low heat.
- Add roughly 1/2 cup water to dilute. Do this gradually though, until you get a nice consistency. It thickens slightly as it cools.
- You don’t need to add anything else, but a pinch of sugar makes it a little sweeter (if desired) and juice from 1/2 lime helps balance the flavors.
- Remove from heat and garnish with some crushed peanuts.
Fish Sauce based Spring Roll Dipping Sauce
- Whisk together the following ingredients: 1/2 cup fish sauce, 1/4 cup honey, juice from 2 limes and 1/2 cup boiling water (it needs to be hot to dissolve. the honey).
- Garnish with a few finely chopped cilantro leaves, and some thinly sliced fresh red chili.
- Taste it. If it needs to be saltier, add fish sauce. Sweeter = honey. More bitter = lime.
The easiest way to elevate the flavors and aromas of this dish is with fresh herbs. Some of the kits that include ingredients used in this recipe are highlighted below.