Ms. B. and I often get together to conjure up a variety of Asian recipes—I'm particularly glad she shares my fondness for Thai cuisine—and we've managed a number of very tasty dishes. One of my favorites—which she has undeniably perfected—is Thai fresh spring rolls. We usually stuff the rolls with ground turkey, but last night we tried them with shrimp. While I generally prefer shrimp to turkey, I find I actually like the turkey rolls better...by a slim margin. Life is full of surprises, don't you know. I made up some seriously hot pepper sauce (with fish sauce, lime juice, and serrano peppers), and we also had on hand some sriracha, hot chili garlic sauce, and sweet Maesri brand spring roll sauce. Here's our recipe, or a reasonable facsimile thereof; bear in mind we always vary things a bit in the prepping. The amounts below serve two happily; adjust as needed, but bear in mind that you are responsible for the math, not me. Preparation time is about 30 minutes. It's easier if you have a partner who can prepare the wrappers while the other stuffs the innards.
What You Need:
1 lb shrimp (after cooking, peeling, and de-veining) or ground turkey
1 dozen rice paper wrappers
2 cups chopped cabbage (bak choy or napa)
1 cup cilantro
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped spring onions
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
juice from 1 lime
2 tbsp hot chili oil
diced serrano peppers (1 to 10, depending on your tolerance for heat)
What You Do:
1) In a large bowl, thoroughly mix cabbage, mushrooms, spring onions, serrano peppers, lemon juice, and about 2 tbsp fish sauce.
2) Pour your Thai chili oil into a very hot wok or skillet. Add chopped garlic and cook for about two minutes, stirring frequently; then turn heat to low.
3) If you're using ground turkey, dump it in now and brown. If you're using shrimp, wait and throw it into the mix right at the end, so it won't get tough.
4) If you're using turkey: once it's browned, dump into the skillet the mixture of cabbage, cilantro, mushrooms, spring onions, serrano peppers, lemon juice, and fish sauce. Let simmer for three to five minutes, stirring frequently. If you're using shrimp, add it to the pan with only about a minute to go.
5) Remove from heat.
6) In a bowl of very hot water, soak each rice paper wrapper for about one minute (you'll probably need to change out your hot water every three minutes or so during preparation). Spread the wrapper onto a non-stick surface (an oiled wooden cutting board works nicely) and blot with a dry paper towel. Then spoon about three to four tablespoons of your cooked ingredients onto the wrapper. Fold the ends over; then grab one of the unfolded ends and roll the bugger into a happy little cylindrical shape.
Dip these guys into your preferred sauce, and they'll rock your world—though after about an hour, you'll be hungry as hell again. I recommend a few sticks of crushed almond Pocky to fill that gaping void.
We accompanied our dinner with a bottle of Chateau Morrisette Cabernet Franc, which is easily among this winery's best products. Their Black Dog red table wine is also a winning accompaniment. Of course, hot saké is never a bad accompaniment, either, but we were in a Cab Franc mood....