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Fresh Spring Rolls

This cold-plate appetizer from Southeast Asia is a delicious and healthy treat

Many versions of spring rolls exist across Southeast Asia. In Vietnam, they are known as goi chon; Cambodians call them lott; they are known as miang yuan in Northeast Thailand.

While spring rolls can be fried, this method calls for pre-cooked ingredients and fresh spring roll wrappers that are softened in water. They can be made ahead of time or at the table by your guests for a fun experience.

The round rice papers, also called spring roll wrappers, can be found at most specialty markets and may even be available in some chain grocery stores. Rice paper is very fragile and it may take some practice to keep it from tearing while you are rolling. It is important to have all ingredients ready when the wrapper comes out of the water. The drier it becomes, the easier it will tear.

Fresh Spring Rolls
(makes 8 rolls)

8 eight-inch wrappers
24 small shrimp, deveined, cooked, patted dry
½ pound lean pork shoulder, boiled or braised, thinly sliced
8 oz. vermicelli, cooked, drained
Lettuce, chopped into strips
2 jalapenos, blistered, skinned, and cut into thin strips (optional)
Bean sprouts, rinsed and dried

Prepare the ingredients and set out in an assembly line on separate plates.
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a wrapper into water to allow it to soften and then place on smooth surface.

Being by lining up three shrimp along the first third of the wrapper (see instructions below). Layer with strips of pork and the remaining ingredients - as much or as little as you like.

The wrapping process is the same is rolling up a burrito. Layer your ingredients in the first one-third of the wrapper, leaving some space at the edge. Bring that edge up over the food and press down gently. Pull both side flaps toward the center and press down. Begin rolling up the remainder of the wrapper.

Your fresh spring rolls are ready to serve with a dipping sauce of your choice. Peanut sauce is one of our favorites.

You can easily mix and match any of the ingredients. Use chicken or beef, carrots, snow peas, green onions, for instance, and cook first in a stir-fry before allowing to cool and wrapping.

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