[EDITED on 3/09 to add: This recipe unfairly taunts kosher readers, I suppose - I posted this when I was still keeping "ingredient kosher" (i.e. not caring about kosher certification as long as there was no unkosher meat, shellfish, or meat-milk mixtures). Now that I keep a strictly kosher kitchen it's near impossible to make this dish. Only one company that I know of makes kosher-certified rice wrappers, which is Sushi Metsuyan. These are hard to find on the retail market. One alternative is using large lettuce leaves to wrap these spring rolls in, since rice vermicelli are widely available.]
Vietnamese fresh spring rolls with a spicy peanut dipping sauce are up there on my Top 10 Foods list. But most are made with shrimp, which is not kosher, or tofu, which doesn't sit right with my sensitive tummy. So I set about creating a soy-free, gluten-free spring roll without shellfish. I used yesterday's leftover salmon, which happened to be baked with cilantro butter, but you can feel free to use plain salmon or canned salmon. You may notice in the photos that the noodles I used inside the rolls are wider than the rice vermicelli the recipe calls for - Hey, even a food blogger can't always have their pantry fully stocked!
Rushed for time, I mixed a little Sriracha-style hot chili sauce with peanut butter and soy sauce. You can find more authentic Vietnamese dipping sauce recipes online.
FRESH SPRING ROLLS WITH SALMON
5 rice paper wrappers (banh trang) - 8-inch size
1 cup of fresh cilantro or basil sprigs, loosely packed
1 cup of fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
4 large leaves of crisp green lettuce, sliced (remove ribs)
1 large carrot, shredded
2 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
2 ounces cooked or canned salmon, flaked gently into small pieces
Bring a quart of water to boil in a saucepan. Turn off heat and submerge noodles in water. Soak for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Rinse with cold water in colander, and drain.
Fill a pie pan or pot that is wider than 8" in diameter with hot water. Carefully remove one rice paper wrapper from the package and submerge it in this water. Let it soak until it's soft. For easier handling, allow parts of the sheet to remain a little bit stiff (some of the hatch marks that are in the design of most rice papers can still be visible). Remove from water very carefully.
Place the rice paper wrapper on a smooth, dry surface. Surface should be ceramic, plastic or glass - Rice paper wrappers can stick to wooden surfaces. Take 1/5 of noodles and arrange lengthwise 1 inch from the bottom of wrapper. Leave 1-2 inches of the wrapper uncovered on the sides, as well.
Add mint, cilantro or basil, lettuce, and 1/5 of the flaked salmon as separate layers on top of the vermicelli. Pull the bottom edge of the wrapper up to cover the filling. Now fold both sides of the wrapper up to cover the edges. Continue rolling, tucking the filling in towards you with your fingers and roll tightly so that the roll remains firm (but not so tightly that you rip the rice paper!)
Makes 5 rolls, which serves 2 to 5 people, depending on how hungry you are!