I was watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations the other day and he ate a sandwich called the mother-in-law. It was a tamale stuffed with a hot dog on a bun, piled with all kinds of things. It is supposed to be reminiscent of the way your mother-in-law makes you feel. But my mother-in-law is wonderful and doesn’t give me heartburn or make me want to clench my stomach with regret. My mother-in-law is sweet and strong.
This one is for you Lynn. When my in-laws were in Okinawa we made fresh spring rolls, we took them to the beach for a picnic and wasted away the afternoon relaxing on the sand. Lynn helped me roll them and pack them for our little adventure. There is a little beach in Okinawa we always gravitate to, Matt loves it. It’s called Maeda Flats and where I tried to paddle board for the first time.
Since our little adventure with my in-laws that day, I had a few spring rolls when I was in Melbourne in Chinatown that had more of a bahn mi flavor which I loved. Chinatown in Melbourne has hundreds of fantastic restaurants of various Asian countries. Vietnamese bahn mi. Japanese sushi. Chinese dumplings. I could eat there everyday. I changed it up a bit for these, I wanted to add shrimp and a little more spice. Good choice. Very good choice.
For the shrimp, I marinated them with fish sauce, red pepper flakes and sesame oil which I thought was savory, a little spicy, and just complex enough. Just what I wanted to do for these bad boys. To get the full marinade effect be sure to use uncooked shrimp to absorb that marinade before cooking. The rice vinegar adds a very nice zing to the carrots and cucumber so make sure you don’t skip that. If you have avocado around it would be delicious in there as well, I didn’t use it in this batch but always a good addition. These are low calorie but have huge flavor so you won’t regret it later if you went for an extra piece or two.
- 15-20 large round rice spring roll papers
- ½ Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp, uncooked with tails removed
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- ½ cup fish sauce
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- rice vinegar
- 3 medium carrots, spiralized or cut into matchsticks
- 2 English cucumbers, seeds removed and cut into matchsticks.
- 1 cup basil leaves
- 1 cup mint leaves
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 2 small heads lettuce with soft leaves, spines removed.
- 4 ounces very fine rice noodles
- ¼ cup Korean chili garlic sauce
- ¼ cup +2 Tablespoons reduced fat mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- In a medium shallow bowl, mix sesame oil, fish sauce, and red pepper flakes. Add shrimp and marinate for 15 minutes.
- In a wok or large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add shrimp in batches to wok so as to not overcrowd the pan, do not add extra marinade to wok. Cook for a few minutes before flipping shrimp. Remove each batch as it cooks and place on a paper towel lined plate. Let cool to room temperature.
- Place chopped carrots and cucumber in a bowl and add 4-8 Tablespoons of rice vinegar to them, toss to coat.
- Cook rice noodles by heating a pot of water to almost boiling, turn off water and add noodles. Let soak for 10-20 minutes until soft. Drain and rinse with cool water.
- In a small bowl mix all ingredients for sauce. Set aside.
- To assemble spring rolls, first soften rice paper by dunking in warm water for several seconds. You do not need to get rice paper completely soft or it will be too sticky and difficult to work with. Place spring roll on a silpat or nonstick surface.
- Place 3-4 cooked shrimp in a row slightly closer to one end of the spring roll. Next, place a few leaves of basil, cilantro and mint. Place a few carrots and cucumber sticks. Top with a small amount of rice noodles. Lastly, place the lettuce leaves on top with the top of the leaves facing out.
- Roll the spring rolls, starting by covering the shrimp and vegetables with the short side. Then cover the ends by pulling in the rice paper from the sides. Roll to the end and set aside. Repeat until ingredients are gone.