Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce

I have another guest post for you today, and I can't even begin to tell you how much I love this one!  This cool and refreshing recipe comes from Liren of Kitchen Confidante - her and I go waaaaay back, all the way to when we first started our blogs.  Even from the beginning, I knew I liked her warm heart and friendly spirit, and her blog is a place where she shares inspiring recipes with gorgeous photos.  I also really love her writing, she has a voice that is calm and real, and I always find her posts informative

With this recipe for Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce, Liren has touched on so many things that I adore: first, you know how I can't resist fresh and seasonal veggies, and in this recipe, they are the star.  Liren was even lucky enough to find some pea shoots at the farmers market, which make these spring rolls extra special.  Second, she elevated standard spring rolls to greatness by pairing them with an intriguing Spicy Carrot Sauce (I can't wait to try it myself!).  And last, but certainly not least, Liren encourages us to share these rolls with friends and family - a concept that is near and dear to my heart, since I learned to make these rolls from a good friend, and have shared them with family ever since.  

I know you will just love this recipe from Liren, and be sure to stop by Kitchen Confidante and check out all her other recipes - I have still been thinking about her post from last year on making beer bratwurst, if you are into homemade foods and DIY projects, this one is for you.  Enjoy!

I am so honored to share a post today on The Cilantropist. Amanda and I both started our sites at about the same time, and it has been a delight getting to know one another better through our kitchens and the world of food. I have also had the joy of meeting Amanda in person, and I have to tell all of you - she is as sweet and kind and as passionate about food in person as you can imagine. Having once been in her grad school shoes, I well know the stress of that world - dissertation drafts, defenses, meeting upon meeting...I honestly don't know how she does it all whilst cooking, photographing, writing and sharing it here -- and beautifully so -- for all of us. So I am more than happy to share something with Amanda's readers, while she gets all that hard work done.

It's been a sweltering summer for much of the country, and while it's been unusually mild here in the Bay Area, I am often chatting with family and friends that are melting in heat and humidity. I have the utmost empathy for them; I well remember the oppressive heat, when your excursions outdoors are greeted by hot sidewalks, heat permeating from every inorganic material - I've crossed many a taxi filled street in NYC to know. All you want to do is find air conditioning, all you want to eat is something light and refreshing.

Like Amanda, I am a fan of cilantro, so for today's post, I thought I would serve up something cool and refreshing, that highlights vibrant herbs and vegetables. Perfect for these hot summers, you will find these Vietnamese-style Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce satisfying with the crunch of carrots and cucumber, the coolness of slippery bean threads (rice vermicelli), succulent seafood, and peppy herbs such as mint, cilantro and basil. And if that isn't enough, sweet carrots were used to create a Spicy Carrot Sauce in which to dip your bundles of coolness.

I was also thrilled to find fresh pea shoots at my local market. For me, fresh pea shoots are something I find perhaps one or two times a year, and it's always a treat. Not many markets sell the leaves of the pea plant. Nibble on the little greens and tendrils and they taste just like their fruit - peas! They work beautifully in these rolls.

Have you ever worked with rice paper before? These gorgeous sheets are made of rice flour, and come in a variety of shapes - squares, circles and even triangles. When you buy them, they are brittle and translucent, almost like the shade of a delicate lantern. One dip in warm water makes them pliable and the perfect envelope to package your veggies.

The beauty of these rolls is that you can make them with nearly anything that strikes your fancy. Use your favorite herbs and vegetables. Don't like mint? Leave it out. Can't find fresh pea shoots? Use your favorite lettuce. Customize to your heart's content. And have fun with the assembly! Fresh spring rolls are perfect party food - especially when you get your guests involved. No one likes to sit by themselves making rolls! So grab some friends, a glass of wine, and the freshest ingredients you can find, and get rolling! Cherish these last weeks of summer with these bundles of crispy goodness. The cool weather will eventually follow.

You might also like: Pea Tendrils... Have You Tried Them?
One year ago: Making Organic Stone Fruit Preserves for Pennies

Fresh Spring Rolls with Spicy Carrot Sauce

Spicy Carrot Sauce adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook 

Makes about 8 rolls.

For the sauce:
8 ounces carrot, diced
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon hot chile oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce* (or kosher salt)

For the spring rolls:
5 ounces cucumber, seeded and sliced into thin strips, about 3 inches long
3 carrots, sliced into thin strips, about 3 inches long
8 oz fresh mung beans
8 oz cooked shrimp (peeled, deveined, and sliced lengthwise) or lump crab meat
pea sprouts or your favorite greens
fresh herbs, i.e. basil, mint, cilantro
2.5 ounces bean threads*
rice paper*
fresh chives (optional)

Make the sauce:
In a small sauce pan, combine the diced carrot, ginger, coriander, and salt with 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree the carrot mixture in a blender or food processor, and press through a strainer, extracting as much of the liquid as possible. Add the hot chile oil, vinegar and fish sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The sauce can be prepared a day in advance.

Assemble the rolls:
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Cook bean threads for about 3 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Prepare a bowl of warm water. Working in very small batches (no more than three at a time), dip the rice paper for 1-2 seconds to soften. Lay flat between two sheets of damp paper towels. In the center of the roll, leaving a 2 inch border on all sides, arrange small portions of cucumber, carrots and mung bean. Layer some bean threads, several pieces of shrimp or crab and top with fresh herbs. Wrap the roll by folding the left and right sides over. Then, starting at the point closest to you, roll from bottom to top. If you wish, tie each roll with a length of fresh chives.  Serve with the spicy carrot sauce or your favorite dipping sauce.

* Find these ingredients at your local Asian market or specialty store.


  1. Yes please!! These look so fresh and inviting! Love love love the flavour combination!

  2. oh goodness. This looks incredibly summery, light and delicious. I specially heart the carrot sauce. Awesome.

  3. Fresh, healthay and very enjoyable!



  4. THese look healthy, fresh, and wonderful. LOVE the chive ties!

  5. I've been in love with pea shoots recently, I must try it in these wonderful fresh rolls.

  6. I love fresh spring rolls! I love what you did!

    I make peanut sauce as my dipper. I need to try your sauce.

  7. very nice! crunchy, fresh and flavourful :-)

  8. Just GORGEOUS! I love eating beautiful food...what a fabulous guest post!

  9. Spring rolls are some of my favorite things in the whole world. You've reminded me that it has been awhile since I've made some. These are just beautiful. I am loving that spicy carrot sauce and I am going to make some of it next time to go with my rolls. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. It looks sooo fresh + perfect for summer!! Loved all the clicks! Will have to try it with spicy carrot sauce :). Last time I had it with peanut dipping sauce(twopeasnpod's recipe) but I was not really happy with it (It was toooo sweet). I will need to try this one since I am a more into spicy food! Thanks for sharing.

  11. These spring rolls look beautiful and sound delicious! Perfect as always from Liren!

  12. I love the spicy carrot sauce!

  13. Wow, these are some of the most beautiful spring rolls I've ever seen! I love all the ingredients and how everything is so fresh - might need to add these to the menu this week! Thanks for sharing, as always ;)

  14. I agree with you completely -- Liren does have a warm way with words and her photos are nothing short of stunning. A beautiful post!

  15. Exactly what I want to eat this time of year... all your recipes are so good, Liren! I just want to pick up that bowl with the spicy carrot sauce and slurp it up! Yummers!!

  16. Oh I cant wait to try that spicy carrot sauce, it sounds super yummy and fresh!

  17. These are one of the most beautiful spring rolls I have seen. Love the presentation!
    And that spicy carrot sauce, can't wait to try it!!
    Thanks Amanda and Liren!

  18. As pretty and refreshing as can be! What a beautiful post & delicious recipe. YUM!

  19. I love both your blogs so lovely to see Liren posting on yours! These look so fresh and delicious.

  20. So pleased to see all your sweet comments! Thank you all so very much, and special thanks to Amanda for allowing me to guest post, it was an absolute pleasure :)

  21. I've been on an egg roll/spring roll/wonton dinner kick for about two weeks now, and I've been searching high and low for a killer sauce - this looks awesome! Really looking forward to trying it! Thanks for sharing. Love the blog! :)

  22. Looks so yummy! I love spring rolls though always have it with peanut sauce. I will have to try this sauce.

  23. Amanda, You and Liren are a perfect pairing and such good friends. Love the recipe and the wonderful cooperation. Good luck with your studies!! Shulie

  24. Mmm, I'm really intrigued by the carrot sauce too! Sounds delish!

  25. So fresh and lovely. I love spring rolls. These look yummy!

  26. Those are truly the freshest looking Spring Rolls I've ever seen. I love how all your posts have a beautiful flow...

  27. beaUtiful photography! I have to try this recipe!

  28. These sound so delicious and fresh! I can't wait to give these a try!

  29. Nosh nosh. Brings me back to childhood dinners with my Vietnamese best friend and her family. Can't wait to make these.

  30. By the way, I'm a cilantro lover, too. Funny how so many think it tastes soapy. Weird genetic hiccup, no?

  31. Brook: Glad to see a fellow cilantro lover here! And yes, to those that taste soap instead of heavenly cilantro... So strange, I have never understood how exactly that happens...

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