Monday, June 17, 2013

Making Fresh Rolls with Peanut Sauce at Home

A couple years ago, my good friend Sarah taught me how to make fresh rolls at home, complete with homemade peanut sauce for dipping. But the frighteningly fragile, delicate nature of rice paper plus the daunting task of mixing my own peanut sauce kept me from trying to make them on my own - without my Sarah to guide me. In the last few months, however, I've made these little guys three times... and am actually pretty proud of how the entire dish has turned out each time!

fresh rolls at home
While a couple of the required ingredients are admittedly a little obscure, once they're in your pantry/fridge you probably will not need to re-up on them for a long time. So there's a happy thought to tuck under your pillow. 

ingredients for fresh rolls

Fresh Rolls:
- 1 pound of chicken (I used tenderloins)
- 2 carrots (I used 3 but it ended up being way too much!)
- half a head of romaine lettuce 
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1/3 cup mint
- rice paper sheets (you can get a package of these at any Asian food market)
- salt & pepper

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
- 2 tbsp peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, doesn't matter - I've used both)
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/3 cup Hoi Sin Sauce

This recipe makes enough for two people.


Season and cook your chicken. I effing hate touching raw chicken, how 'bout you?

cooking chicken for fresh rolls
It's more fun to build your fresh rolls if all of your veggies are nicely shredded.  I cut my romaine and basil into thin strips, shredded my carrots, chopped the chicken into bits, and left the mint leaves as-is. 

prepared ingredients for fresh rolls

The peanut sauce can be made to your own tastes. I like mine a bit sweeter, so I add a little more peanut butter and a little less soy sauce. Dave prefers his to be saltier, so he goes heavier on the soy sauce.  Start by mixing the peanut butter and water together and combining them well. Then stir in your hoi sin sauce and finally add the soy sauce. Definitely taste as you go!

homemade peanut dipping sauce

Hey here's something you may not have dealt with at home before - rice paper! Whoop whoop! So the bad news is that this is a tricky step and it's really easy to tear the rice paper. The good news is that rice paper appears to come in enormous packages with tons of sheets, so there seems to be some wiggle room for error.

First, make sure you have a pan that is large enough to hold your rice paper. That's important. Put about an inch of water into the pan and heat it up - you want the water to be a little hotter than "warm"... which is a confusing way of saying, "Make sure you can still touch the water without burning ya poor little hands!"

Remove a sheet of rice paper from your package and slide it into the water, like so:

dipping rice paper into water
.  gym clothes, what what  .
dipping rice paper into water for fresh rolls
.   well dippity dooooooo!!  .

Monitor the submerged rice paper by touching it a bit. When it's become pliable and the edges are beginning to turn up, it's time to take it out of the water.  Here's the tricky part. You gotta pull that sucker out of the water while a) trying not to tear it and b) not letting it fold over on itself. The sheet is going to be sticky and will try so hard to stick to itself, but it's your job to not let that happen. Try to spread it out gingerly with your fingers and stretch it to its circular form:

pulling rice paper out of hot water
If parts of it are sticking to itself, I kind of dip those parts back into the water to unstick them and then continue taking the entire thing out of the water. Seriously, there is enough rice paper in your package for you to practice this a couple of times if you want to. I'm all about the practice rounds.

Lay the sheet of rice paper down onto a surface where you'll build each fresh roll. I go with a rubber cutting board because I've found that the rice paper likes to stick to wooden cutting boards.

Now it's time to build your roll. Add your veggies and chicken, layer by layer:

building a fresh roll at home
.  lettuce makes a good base  .
making homemade fresh rolls
.  then chicken and carrots  .
fresh rolls at home
.  sprinkle it with basil  .
adding mint to fresh rolls
.  lay your mint over the top  .
... and roll 'er up! Start at one end and treat it like a dainty, fragile burrito - tucking in the sides and rolling them in as well. 

rolling up a fresh roll

rolling up a fresh roll

rolling up a fresh roll
Sweet, delicious, fresh success!  Heyooo!

homemade fresh rolls
Guys, they're so good.
Serve with your peanut sauce and enjoy the shit out of these!

homemade fresh rolls with peanut dipping sauce

If you try making these at home and don't tell me about it, I will be so mad at you.
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  1. They look delicious!! And I hate touching any raw meat.:(

    1. You can also try this recipe with tofu and it works out just as well :)

  2. This looks delicious! I'm loving all the fresh ingredients!

    xo Molly

  3. You're making me hungry!!

    Brooke du jour

  4. Great instruction! I'm gonna sub the meat for tofu. I buy these all the time at Whole Foods but I should just start making them on my own:)
    Boho Bunnie

    1. I actually learned this recipe using tofu originally, because I was taught the recipe by two vegans! ;)

  5. YUM! My dad's girlfriend just made something similar when I was back home.

    I finally made it back from my trip so my comments are late...
    Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist! Looking forward to seeing what you share this week!


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