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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Home Cookin': Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 at 10:06 AM

click to enlarge Kids chopping.
  • Kids chopping.
Over a month ago, I took an Asian-themed cooking class with friends at Healthy Living. For the appetizer portion of the meal, we made Vietnamese spring rolls with loads of veggies and marinated tofu. They were light, delicious and way easier to execute then I had imagined. That night, I made a mental note that I would try to adapt the dish for a family meal in the near future.

I finally got around to it this week. My husband, Jeff, and I had just spent two days eating our way through Montréal, so I was looking for a healthy dinner that our kids, Mira, 6, and Theo, 4, would also enjoy. Spring rolls were the perfect solution.

Food prep was a family affair. The kids were totally engaged in peeling and chopping cucumbers, peppers, cabbage and more into bite-size pieces. Jeff cooked up some chicken breasts that had been soaking in Soy Vay, an amazing Asian marinade, for about an hour. 

The kids soaked the stiff rice-paper wrappers to soften them, filled them and then rolled them up — surprisingly easy tasks for little hands. Mira and Theo loved custom-designing their rolls, choosing exactly how many carrots, cucumbers and chicken pieces would go into each one. Jeff and I added avocado and cilantro to up the flavor and texture of the little 
click to enlarge Prepped ingredients
  • Prepped ingredients
packets of goodness.

The rolls were more sloppily assembled, the carrots and cucumbers less precisely julienned than when I made the dish with adults. But that didn't stop anyone from gobbling them up. The kids ate way more veggies than they do on a regular night, and I felt cleansed of my North-of-the-border indulgences. 

Next time I'm craving a virtuous-but-kid-pleasing meal, I'll be ready to roll.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

2 cucumbers, 5-7 small bell peppers and 4 carrots, chopped into thin matchsticks
1/4 head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
3-4 large lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
A handful of cilantro leaves
Sesame seeds
click to enlarge Rolling with a little help.
  • Rolling with a little help.
2 large chicken breasts, marinated and cooked, then thinly sliced
Spring-roll skins (three per person for a light meal)
Sweet chili sauce for dipping

Fill a large, shallow dish with warm water. Submerge spring-roll skins one at a time in the water and soak for two minutes, until soft. Remove the spring-roll skin from the water — carefully! They are delicate and rip easily.

Spread the spring-roll skin on a dry surface. Pile an assortment of ingredients on the side of the spring roll closest to you. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top if desired.

Roll the spring roll away from you, tucking in the sides after the first turn, until it is completely sealed. (There are many YouTube video tutorials, if you can't visualize it.)

Serve with a squirt of lime and sweet chili dipping sauce.

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