You can make this dish vegetarian with or without tofu or avocado. You could also use cooked and peeled shrimp with tails removed. We'll do the vegetarian version for simplicity, but we encourage you to play with filling ideas.
Rice paper wrappers are widely available at Asian markets, but many grocery stores carry them as well in their 'International Food' sections. Generally you can find white rice paper at the local grocery, and brown and white rice wrapper at the Asian market by the noodles. Both brown rice and white rice papers are typically gluten-free (just make sure they're labeled as such if you're on a GF regimen) and used in the same fashion.
Any leafy greens will make awesome fresh rolls. Shred tougher leaves like kohlrabi greenery, kale, and cabbage with a sharp knife using the chiffonade method. Looseleaf lettuce is fine as is, though you might tear the leaves a bit smaller for easy rolling. Rice wrappers are somewhat see-through, so we love using bright lights chard and colorful greens like red sails lettuce.
TIP: ruby streaks mustard greens look gorgeous in the rolls, if you have some, but be sure to lay it down first before the herbs and lettuce so you can see the nifty fern-like leaves through the transluscent rice wrapper.
The herbs are adaptable; mint is wonderful all year, cilantro and dill in fall, or basil in spring through summer works well.
- ½ cup shredded carrots, radishes, kohlrabi in any combination
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- A good selection of thick leaved greens like chard, kohlrabi, kale
- 6-10 washed lettuce leaves
- Rice paper wraps, brown rice or white
- Bowl of warm water
- ½ cup lemongrass chicken sliced thinly
- Avocado sliced
- ½ cup cooked and peeled shrimp
Wash your leafy greens and shred the thicker leaves (kale, chard, kohlrabi greens) with a knife by rolling the leaves up and slicing thinly (chiffonade). Root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, and radish can be shredded with a box grater or food processor. Sprinkle white vinegar over shredded and matchstick veggies to prevent browning.
When you have prepared all your fillings, you'll need a large bowl of warm water to soften the rice paper wrappers (one at a time) and a large, clean, flat work surface. A cutting board works fine. Carefully open one end of the rice paper package so you can pull one wrap out at a time, without exposing the rest to air (I cover with a tea towel) as they tend to curl up and become brittle if they're all taken out of the package at once. You should also cover a plate with plastic wrap so you have a place to put your finished rolls as you go. Dip a single sheet of rice paper into the warm water and let it soften slightly (about 20-30 seconds).
When the rice paper is pliable, lay the disc flat on your work surface. Essentially, you roll these just like a slippery burrito or egg roll. Layer a few herb leaves and lettuce leaves first, leaving about an inch clear on the sides. Add a small amount of shredded veggies to the center (too much and the roll will burst or tear), and top with a few matchstick kohlrabi, then fold the sides of the rice paper a bit over the veggies and roll up. It might take a few tries to get it down, but don't fret, you can cover up mistakes by simply softening another wrap and wrapping it over the first to cover tears and tighten things up, or skip the folding and just roll them up without tucking in the edges. Let the finished rolls sit about ten minutes (this makes them firm up and less slippery), cut them in half, and serve with Lime Dipping Sauce.
Low Sodium Lime Dipping Sauce
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes) or white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, mashed
- 2 teaspoons sunflower or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chives
- 1 teaspoon finely minced jalepeno*
- a few cilantro leaves to garnish
*or your favorite pepper - mild or sweet are fine, but if you're not big on spice, omit. You can always go hotter if you love heat!
Dissolve the brown sugar in the lime juice in a bowl and set aside. Warm up the oil in a small pan on low heat. Add the garlic and peppers to the oil. When the oil sizzles around the garlic, stir it and turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner. Allow the garlic oil to cool for 10 minutes. Combine the cooled garlic-pepper oil with the lime juice mixture. Garnish with chives and cilantro, serve at room temperature.