Food blogger Kim Dao demonstrates a few easy tips for rolling up the no-fail appetizer
Spring rolls can feel intimidating at first glance, but they are less like complicated origami than you’d think. Start by thinly slicing all of your vegetables and preparing your protein like shrimp, chicken, or tofu. When you’re ready to start assembling your rolls, dip the rice paper wrapper quickly in hot water. It will still feel stiff when you pull it out. Don’t worry, the rice paper will continue to soften as you assemble your vegetables. Resist the urge to leave the paper in the hot water longer–it will become gummy and extremely challenging to work with.
Add your filling into the center left of the wrapper in layers. Start from the shorter left edge and tightly wrap the roll around the filling, making sure to remove extra space in the filling as you go. Once you’ve folded over the left side, add any ingredients that you’d like to show through the wrapper like shrimp, flakey fish, or bright vegetables. Fold the sides into the middle over your star ingredients. Finish rolling all the way to the end. You may need to reheat your water while you work to keep it hot enough to soften the rice papers.
If your rolls feel sticky after you’ve wrapped them, set them on a plate or a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat slightly apart from one another and let them dry. Your rolls will also become less sticky if you store them in the fridge until serving, just be careful to place them without touching in an airtight container or they will stick to one another and rip when pulled apart later.
Once your rolls are all assembled, whip together a simple peanut dipping sauce with chunky peanut butter, Asian chili paste, sugar, and water in a blender. You can also buy peanut sauce in most supermarkets. Serve as appetizers or pack up a few for a healthy, grab-and-go weekday lunch.