GF: Making Spring Rolls

This post is because I love spring rolls. And because I promised Natalie of Gluten Free Mommy that I’d get on it sooner rather than later. So, Natalie – here’s to you! Happy spring roll making!

And.. let me add… a THANK YOU to Ginger from GFinGF for being such an awesome blogger-buddy. Thanks for your kindness and open heart. I’ve sincerely appreciated your joyful person and calming tips!

……………………………

Spring rolls are really easier to make than they look – and incredibly versatile as well! Once you have all of your ingredients lined up, you’re ready to go.

Maybe the most difficult part of people is figuring out what they need to buy in order to have the spring rolls they like/remember from a favorite restaurant. It’s important to remember that there are as many variations of spring rolls as there are people who love them. I’m including directions for a simple version with a nice twist that my friend Gaby included in her spring rolls when we had our cooking party/dinner party together.

First, let’s talk about the ingredient list.

Rice Paper Wrappers:

  • “Rice” paper wrappers can also be made from sesame, tapioca, etc. Since the United States has implemented more clear food labeling laws, these items are easily identifiable on packages in the Asian markets about town. I prefer to use the rice based wrappers over the tapioca ones, but many people notice little or no difference between the two major types.
  • These “wrappers” are sold in a dehydrated state in many sizes and shapes (round and square being the most prevalent).
  • Dehydrated rice wrappers store indefinitely once opened. I usually seal my open package of wrappers in a ziplock bag and tipped on to the side in my cupboard to prevent breakage. Once a wrapper breaks, it is very difficult to use for a wrap, but depending on it’s size, it might still work.

Rice Vermicelli Noodles:  (also called “rice sticks”)

  • There are many brands and varieties of rice vermicelli noodles or “rice sticks”. Ask the market salesperson if you are in doubt about one particular brand over another. I have found the range of noodles can be from semi-stringy to somewhat overly starchy. Rice noodles are inexpensive, so consider purchasing a couple different brands to compare and find the brand you prefer for future rice noodle endeavors.

Thai Basil, Cilantro, Mint, etc:

  • Rice noodles and wrappers are relatively flavorless. Seriously. All the flavor you want in your spring roll comes from two major sources: the herbs you put within it and the sauce into which you are dipping your rolls.
  • Thai basil (or any basil if you can’t find “thai” basil) is the most basic and fundamental herb to include. Thai basil imparts a strong basil flavor with a slight peppery taste too.
  • Cilantro is another traditional herb to place within a spring roll.
  • Mint, tarragon, thyme, lemon verbena, rosemary leaves, etc are all possibilities depending on your other fillings (particularly the meat or veggies), your choice of dipping sauces, and your own personal tastes.

Shrimp or Veggie fillings:

  • Most spring rolls have shrimp (opened and butterflied to save on expense) and/or Vietnamese pork. (This is just s steamed pork roll which has a very mild flavor.) The shrimp is usually prepared by simple boiling it in water until just done (about 3 minutes or so depending upon the size of the shrimp) and the pork is purchased ready-to-eat.
  • Others forgo the shrimp/meat fillings and fill the spring roll with chopped cabbage, shredded lettuce, shredded carrots, raw/shredded zuchini or cucumbers, etc

Water, water, water:

  • Okay, so water isn’t really an ingredient inside the spring roll, but it is very important. You will need warm to semi-hot water to rehydrate both the noodles and the wrappers. Depending upon how many rolls you play to make, you may wish to keep a tea pot of heated water on the stove while you work. That way you can refresh your warm water if it gets too cool to soften the wrapper quickly.

I made about 6 spring rolls with the list of ingredients below. For dipping sauces, you can make your own Sweet Thai Chile Sauce or purchase some when you are at the market. We also like hoisin sauce (but I have yet to work on a GF version of that) so while my love eats that, I enjoy peanut sauce too. There are easy to find recipes online for both of these items. I have just link a couple that look close to what we make – I have not tried these recipes and just found them via google.

For 6 Spring Rolls
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 package rice vermicelli noodles, soaked in water until completely soften (can soak for up to 2 hours in room temperature water OR for 30+ minutes in warm water until soft)
  • 12 shrimp, peeled, de-veined and boiled (21-30 count)
  • 12 rice paper wrappers, medium sized (about 7″ in diameter?) (or more! If you are inexperienced, they may rip/break until you get used to them)
  • basil
  • cilantro
  • mint
  • Gaby’s secret touch: Broccoli Slaw Mix

Directions:

  1. Soak the rice vermicelli noodles until completely softened. You can soak the noodles in cool/room temperature water for two hours OR soak them in warm (not hot!) water for 30+ minutes while you prep the rest of your ingredients. Taste-testing and swishing the noodles will easily let you know if they are soft and flexible.
  2. Boil shrimp for 3-4 minutes until just done. Drain. If you wish to, you can butterfly the shrimp to make more rolls. I used 2 shrimp per roll but you can also use the same number but butterflied/open.
  3. Once the rice vermicelli is completely softened, drain them well.
  4. Wash/rinse herbs and broccoli slaw.
  5. Set up your work station. Place a shallow dish near counter space. Both the dish and the counter space need to be large enough to accomodate an open rice wrapper. Also set nearby: the bowl of rice noodles, herbs, broccoli slaw, and prepared shrimp.
  6. Into the shallow dish, pour warm water (as warm as your bare hands can withstand – but not hot as you don’t want to over-soften the rice wrappers). Slide a rice wrapper into the water. Wait a few minutes (1-3 minutes depending on water temperature and wrapper size) until the wrapper is softened completely.
  7. Using your wet hand, dampen the counter or cutting board on which you will be working/wrapping/rolling.
  8. Gently lift the wrapper out of the water and let excess water drip off a bit. Leave the wrapper a bit wet as this is what helps it (a) not stick to the counter and (b) seal against itself when you wrap/roll it.
  9. Gently spread the wrapper to become as flat/back into circular shaper as well as possible. Take care not to rip the wrapper. In this softened state, it may tear easily.
  10. In the bottom third, lay whatever ingredient you want to be visible through the top. I have laid the shrimp pieces then topped those with the basil. Some people prefer to lay the basil leaves as they look nice against the top of the spring roll.
  11. After laying shrimp and basil. Add a few springs of cilantro and a few fresh mint leaves. Then lay a bit of the rice noodle.
  12. Finally add a bit of broccoli slaw by placing a small amount on top of the rest of the ingredients.
  13. To roll/wrap, first begin by folding in each side. (I am holding both sides in the picture because my other hand was busy taking a photo – but no worries – with two hands, this is easy.) Then fold the bottom flap up over your ingredients. Then roll the wrap tightly. If the wrap doesn’t stick to itself and stay right away, make sure the wraps are damp/wet. Then roll the wrap over so that the pressure/weight will hold the overlapping parts together a bit.
  14. The final picture? Well that’s me holding the plate after asking my love to see the final product. It disappeared before I could even put the plate down.

By the way, I wrapped two of these spring rolls into saran wrap and had them for lunch the next day. They were perfect. Although I’m not sure they could have lasted two days in the fridge. But they sure were tasty for lunch the next day.

Happy eating!
-Kate

32 comments on “GF: Making Spring Rolls
  1. Yay! I have wanted this recipe, too! My DH is coming up this weekend, so I think I’ll get some recipe ingredients and make these for him! Or maybe just for MOI! Blog on with your bad self!

    Rock on, sister! These are just for YOU! =) -Kate

  2. Natalie says:

    I am in heaven! This is such a great post- I am making these next week for sure! You are too sweet :)

    You’re in heaven!? Well, then you know how I feel when I read your recipes! I don’t know how you do it, Natalie. The mutual-food-love is there, that’s for sure! – Kate

  3. Linda says:

    You do not fry your spring rolls?

    I don’t fry these. Some people call them “summer rolls” but we’ve always called them “spring rolls” when they are not fried. Rice wrappers or tapioca wrappers can be fried, but they are very crunchy and do NOT get flaky like their wheat wrapper counterparts, sadly. -Kate

  4. nellbe says:

    These look fantastic – as usual! Lots of yummy stuff here, I am happy I found you! Thanks.

    Thanks! The pictures are fun to take and I’m a visual person – so they help me pick out recipes too! I hope you find good things to eat here! That is, after all, the whole purpose of sharing on the blog. =)

    Happy GF Eating!
    -Kate

  5. Mary Frances says:

    Good pictures! John was disappointed last night to find that all of the egg roll wrappers at the store were made with wheat. But it cheered him up when I told him that you’d just posted on spring rolls =) I think I’ll use tamari baked tofu instead of the shrimp, so as soon as I get some rice paper, we’re set!

    The Tamari-baked tofu sounds delicious! I’ve tried with just basic tofu pieces – but the rolls needed more flavor for me. I bet your idea will work. You’re brilliant, Mary Frances! -Kate

  6. alliezalley says:

    I am sooooo excited about this! I’m printing out the recipe now! THANK YOU!!!!

    Have fun with this. This is just a basic outline – there are a milliong things you can do once you get started. Enjoy! -Kate

  7. Karen says:

    This looks great! I haven’t actually made spring rolls yet, but I bought the wrappers, and have been using them to made sandwich wraps. I’ll put just about anything in them. they work better than most GF options for wraps!

    I’ll have to get around to the actual springs rolls though, since that’s why I bought the wrappers in the first place! lol!

    Karen

    Karen – I agree with the lack of good GF wraps. However, this summer I was given a recipe from Cindy on the delphiforums that makes an AWESOME wrap – no joke! It’s a must try. Click on the links on the right for the GF Sandwich Wrap Success to find the recipe. Really. It’s easy to make and fast! -Kate

  8. Nice step by step pictures!!!

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

  9. Sheltie Girl says:

    These look wonderful. I can’t wait to try them out, although I wonder if my kids have forgotten my last attempt at using spring roll wrappers last year…hmm….

    Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

    LOL! Maybe you should rename the rolls to “Summer Rolls” – that way they may think they are different altogether? LOL! -Kate

  10. Ellen says:

    I just had a party and we made 30 of these! We found the trick to keep them from sticking to anything: lay them on top of a damp towel and keep the finished ones covered with another damp towel. Don’t let any single roll touch any other single roll on the platter. Yours look wonderful!

    Awesome! Great tip too, by the way. I totally spaced that very helpful detail! When I make these at night, I wrap each in a separate piece of plastic wrap so they won’t stick together either.
    -Thanks for stopping in, Ellen! =)
    -Kate

  11. Stephanie says:

    I LOVE veggie summer rolls! And so does my meat-eating, wheat-eating hubby. The kids pull ‘em apart, and eat what they feel like eating.

    I marinate my tofu (pressed if I can buy it, or I just press my own for a little while) in sesame oil, soy sauce (Braggs is our family fave), and rice vinegar. I once brought a big tray to a party, and didn’t have the chance to make a dipping sauce. They went in about 20 minutes, and the flavor inside was enough that the dipping sauce wasn’t missed.

    I also prefer using bean thread to rice noodles because of the texture contrast. After marinating the tofu, I usually pour some of the marinade into the noodles, too. It keeps them separated as well as adding flavor.

    For sweet chili sauce, I’m pretty happy with rice vinegar, chopped chiles, some sugar. Last time I got it thick enough by adding corn syrup and apple slices (which I was going to take out, but they were SO tasty!).

  12. Stephanie says:

    Yet another comment, sorry! I see your responses regarding keeping them from sticking. I place them on a platter after making them, and by the time I fill the platter, the first half is dry enough to not be sticky. If I’m storing or transporting them, I’ll move half into the container, and keep on making them…then move the second half. (I usually also cut them in half before I move them.) Almost none of them stick if you give them a little time to dry.

    You’re also supposed to let them dry a little if you plan to fry them….

  13. casey says:

    Is it possible to freeze these spring rolls, and any other gf recipies??

    • Kate says:

      Hello Casey –
      Spring rolls cannot be frozen. They are meant to be eaten fresh and are made for serving within a short period of time.
      Some other GF recipes can be. It depends on the item. Are you asking about something in particular? I’d be glad to help – as I’m sure anyone else would who happens by. (That’s the beauty of an online GF community!)
      ~Kate

      • casey says:

        Yeah i was also wondering about the wraps. im only asking as ive just found out i have a gluten allery, but im flatting so i dont want to make to much and then not be able to freeze it.

  14. Marcia says:

    So, these aren’t cooked after they’re assembled?? I bought ingredients and got to the end of the instructions and was looking for cooking instructions?? Sounds more like salad in a wrap. The cabbage isn’t cooked, the rice noodles are just rehydrated. Am I missing something here. Sorry to be dense. I’m new to Spring Rolls. Maybe I’m confusing them with Egg Rolls. Somehow I thought I’d be baking these on an oiled tray.

    Thanks!

    • Kate says:

      Sorry Marcia –
      Spring rolls are “fresh rolls” and not cooked. You can deep fry this type of wrapper to make a roll – but with different filling ingredients.
      -Kate

      • Marcia says:

        Thanks, Kate,

        Mine were messy but good. Forgot about the dipping sauces until we had already eaten them but I didn’t put in any meat. I used rice noodles, chopped cabbage, a little cilantro and some ginger paste. Not bad! Takes a while to figure out correct proportions to get it to all work right. Also took four tries to figure out the best wetness level to remove the rice wrapper from the water. Too wet and it shredded in my hands. Too dry and it splits. Just right and I can get it out to the work surface and work with it. Good thing they’re cheap! I’m enjoying your recipes. Thanks!

  15. Nancy says:

    SunLuck Hoisin sauce is gluten free!

    • Kate says:

      I’m sorry, Nancy. SunLuck Hoisin sauce is NOT gluten free. Here are the ingredients:

      Ingredients
      High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Paste (Fermented Soybeans, Salt, Wheat, and Water)Molasses, Pumpkin Puree, Red Wine Vinegar, Water, Wheat Flour, Modified Corn Starch, Salt, Hydrolyzed Soy, Corn, Wheat protein, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Sesame Seed Oil, Spices, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors, Citric Acid, FD&C Red No. 40, Sodium Benzoate as a Preservative.

      There is quite a bit of gluten in that. There is a GF alternative though… it is made be Premier Japan. You can find it online here: http://www.edwardandsons.com/sauces_shop_premier.itml

      Hope that helps!

      • Jenn says:

        I looked at the ingredients on my Sun Luck Hoisin sauce which says right on the label that it’s gluten free. These are what is listed:

        Ingredients:
        Sugar, Miso (Water, Soybeans, Rice, Salt, Rice Alcohol), Water, Molasses, Vinegar, Pumpkin, Salt, Garlic Powder, Caramel Color, Sesame Oil, Spices, Citric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavors. Gluten free.

        I guess I’m not seeing the wheat elements you listed – were you looking at Sun Luck? I’ve been using it for years and assumed it was gluten free.

  16. nicole b says:

    you’re ingredients list was super clear and was my favorite kind of recipe: the kind that actually teaches you how to make it, versus a list of things. delish! i made almond butter sauce with thai ginger and it tasted as good as peanut (i didn’t realize how similar they tasted, but i was blown away!). just a comment…i think these are generally called ‘salad’ or ‘summer’ rolls, rather than spring rolls are always deep-fried.

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