Monday, January 24, 2011

fresh rolls with peanut sauce

so fresh and so clean
I learned how to make fresh rolls a few years ago when I served at Thai Paradise, a cute little restaurant downtown Toronto.  They are perfect as an appetizer, snack, or a light meal.  Tonight we made lots and that was dinner!  I've made them a few different ways, with various fillings and trying to perfect a peanut sauce.  You can pretty much use any veggies and/or protein you like (cooked tofu, shrimp, strips of fish, chicken, pork, beef).  Most restaurant fresh rolls have vermicelli noodles in them too - I don't make it that way at home because I don't want to wrap a carb in a carb.  The sauce really does complete this dish, so if you're allergic to peanuts, you can try almond or cashew butter instead.

Portion your ingredients according to how many fresh rolls you want to make.  Each roll will need at least 1 shrimp and 1-2 of each veggie slice.

What you need:

Fresh Rolls
  • rice paper
  • raw black tiger shrimp
  • red pepper
  • carrot
  • green onion
  • avocado
  • asparagus
  • green beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • fresh basil leaves
Peanut Sauce
*if you make the sauce a few hours beforehand, the flavours will intensify
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 or 2 tsp soy sauce 
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely grated
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3 dashes of thai fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger (optional)
  • 2 thai chillies chopped finely
  • 1 green onion chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped finely
  • 1-2 tsp honey 
  • boiled water (amount will depend on consistency of the sauce and how it tastes, i.e. dilute if too salty)
*these are rough estimates, make sure you taste the sauce and adjust to your taste

What to do:
  1. Put peanut butter in a bowl, then slowly add the wet ingredients (except water).  Stir gently until smooth (this is why natural peanut butter works best...hydrogenated peanut butter will be chunky and separated) - add the rest of the ingredients and taste.  Add water as required.  
  2. Cut red pepper, carrot, green onion and avocado into long strips, about 2/3 the diameter of your rice paper.  Cut the asparagus in half.  Blanch the asparagus and green beans in boiling water for about 1 min, then transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking.  Save the boiled water for step 4.  Spread veggies out on a plate and set aside.
  3. Peel and de-vein shrimp.  In a skillet on medium heat, add a bit of cooking oil and garlic.  Sauté shrimp just until cooked, season lightly with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and add to your spread.
  4. Transfer the boiled water to a shallow pan and place it on the lowest heat possible.  
  5. Take a rice paper and slide on side of it into the hot water, but keep holding the edge.  Keep turning it in your hand (clockwise) until it feels soft and pliable.  
  6. Lay the rice paper on the board.  Put the shrimp and veggies in the centre, fold up one edge, fold up the edges on either side, then roll tightly to finish.  
  7. Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!
Random Tips:
  • If you are making these in advance, store them in an airtight container lined and covered with a damp paper towel.
  • Set up a small work station so you have an area to make the fresh rolls (cutting board, clean counter space) and the filling lined up within reach.  
  • The rice paper is tricky and it usually takes one or two to get the hang of it, so don't worry if your first few rice papers envelope on themselves and becomes a gluey mess.
my fresh roll favourites

garlic sauteed shrimp

fresh roll assembly!


  1. These look sooo delicious!!! Can't wait to make them! :)

  2. Have had these and they are delicious!

  3. Do you have preferred brand or store for your rice paper? I'm making this for dinner tonight and I bought the rice paper from the Superstore (didn't have time to go to the Asian food market).

    I'm nervous/excited to use rice paper for the first time! I'll let you know how it goes...

  4. i bought mine at superstore/loblaws too! they are just fine:) asian market might be cheaper that's all.