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Foodie Guinea Pig is a new series where I try out a new recipe/product/or delicacy. I am always taking request, so feel free to comment down below.
Spring rolls are like the distant healthier cousins of the burritos. Not to be confused with it’s fried brother, the Summer rolls. I often get them confused and play Thai roulette when I’m ordering the rolls. Which roll will I be getting….OH! The excitement! Since I’m going to Thailand this Summer, I figured I should start eating their food. Thai food is nothing foreign for me, but I’ve never cooked Thai food before. Well, except for the occasional thai curry, by which I just add coconut milk to ordinary curry. So, I stand by my first statement that I have never cooked any Thai dishes before.
Spring rolls are like a pocket of freshness. A Thai spring roll usually comes with rice noodles (vermicelli noodles), some type of protein (like chicken, pork, beef, and shrimp), fresh herbs (usually cilantro, mint, and basil), and fresh veggies (anything goes, but typically pickled carrots and cucumbers), then wrapped up nicely in a rice wrap. It’s refreshing, cooling, and addicting. No one can just have one roll on a hot day. It’s one of those perfect meals that you can eat on the go and with one hand. Usually a peanut sweet and sour dip goes with the rolls. Honestly, the dip is a nice compliment, but not necessary.
I found this spring roll kit ($4) at my local CVS. It looked simple enough. The kit provided majority of the ingredients, like one small packet of vermicelli noodles, about 16 pieces of rice wraps, and a small packet of sweet and sour sauce. All I had to provided was all the fresh ingredients. I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for this meal, so all I had was fresh basil (from my mom’s kick butt herb garden) and shrimp. Normally, I would’ve added cucumbers, shredded cabbage, and cilantro. So, let’s pretend it’s there.
You remember when I said it looked simple enough…well, I was right. It LOOKED simple, but doing it was a different story. I give it up to the Thai people. They have such great patience for making these damn things. I have a rule: “Cooking the meal should not take longer than to eat the meal with the exception of all holidays and parties”. This meal took me over an hour to make and it took me two bites to eat the whole roll.
There is a lot of prep that goes into making spring rolls. Some can be done ahead of time, but others, like the rice wrappers, has to done when needed. Here are all the prep I needed to do:
- Cook the Shrimp (this could be done ahead of time)
- Clean and cut all the veggies and herbs (can be done ahead of time)
- Boil the vermicelli (this needs to be done relatively close to folding time. needs 10 mins to cool down)
- Re-hydrating the rice wrappers (needs to be done right before rolling)
That may not seem like a lot of things, but this took me almost an hour to do. Rolling added another 10-15 mins.
The wrappers were pretty small. I would say it’s about a salad plate size. A normal rice wrappers are about the size of a dinner plate, maybe a little bigger. I wrapped the spring roll like a burrito. There was no problems, but overstuffing was an issue. (Insert male joke here…you know you want to!)
Some of the rolls became casualty of my bad rolling, so I ended up with 8 pieces. After an hour and half of cooking, it took the family all of two minutes to eat it. I received a lot of great compliments. It was a hit!
The time and effort to make this roll was not worth it. Although the kit made this process simpler, it was still time consuming. The kit ration is off. The vermicelli was too small of a portion for all the rice wrappers. I didn’t try the sauce, because I like a peanut based sauce for my rolls. This sauce was more of a sweet and sour mix, kinda looks like McDonald’s s&s sauce. Leave the spring rolls to the pros and take a pass on this kit.