Monday, June 18, 2012

Vietnamese Inspired Spring Rolls with Honey Chili Sauce

I absolutely love fresh spring rolls; you know the ones wrapped in sticky rice paper concealing a treasure trove of sweet fresh vegetables that you dip in a spicy sweet chili sauce? The kind you try to savor and instead end up gobbling and wishing you had a second order? The kind that you never make at home and only order when you're out at restaurants?

Wait? What was that last one?

I meant to say, the kind you can easily recreate at home with a few key ingredients?

Yeah... those. I love those.

When I lived in Charlotte I cooked my own faux Asian cuisine nearly daily. Inexpensive ingredients like carrots, onions, and cabbage are transformed into a feast when cooked with just a bit of garlic, ginger, and sesame oil. Sometimes I would splurge and add a piece of salmon but most nights me and the jasmine rice shared dinner with just vegetables. Lately I've had a huge craving for my favorite dishes such as Thai style coconut curry, fresh Cambodian style salads, and of course - Vietnamese style spring rolls.

If you've never shopped for ingredients like rice paper wrappers or ponzu you might think they're hard to find. The truth is all the ingredients used here are available in many supermarket chains, even in suburban areas, and are definitely available in Asian specialty markets. It may be a challenge to find a couple ingredients in very rural areas but you can, if absolutely necessary, use powdered ginger in place of fresh or skip the rice paper wrapper and make this as a salad instead using the dipping sauce as your dressing.

The two tricks to making homemade spring rolls taste like you ordered them at your favorite restaurant is using a variety of flavorful vegetables and fresh whole herbs in the rolls as well as the spicy, sweet sauce flavored with ginger, chili, and honey. You can use whatever vegetables you like such as water chestnuts, steamed and chopped broccoli, mushrooms, etc. I like using sweet vegetables like peppers and carrots to help balance the heat in the sauce. This recipe makes approximately 6-7 spring rolls, depending on how full you stuff them, which is enough for two people to have a light supper or as an appetizer for 4-6 people.

Vietnamese Inspired Spring Rolls
2 small chicken breasts, cut into thin strips, marinated (see below), and cooked
1 cup Napa cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, julienne
1 red pepper, julienne
1 large scallion, cut on the bias
1/2 cup sprouts
12 fresh mint leaves
6 rice paper wrappers

1.5 tablespoons ponzu
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 1 large clove)
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar, packed
sriracha sauce, to taste

marinate chicken strips for at least one hour or up to 6 hours before cooking. To cook heat a frying pan or wok on medium-high heat. Add the chicken and marinade and cook until chicken is fully cooked and marinade is reduced by half; about 10-12 minutes.

To assemble the rolls soften the rice paper wrappers in tepid water. I like to do one at a time so they don't stick together. Lay flat on a cutting board or plate and fill the bottom quarter with your desired ingredients. Be careful not to over stuff each roll. A little goes a long way!

To roll: pull the bottom "tab" up over the ingredients and roll, tucking everything in tight. Flip up the sides to seal the ends and then finish rolling all the way up. If you've ever rolled a burrito - roll these the same way.

Honey Chili Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons ponzu
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon sriracha sauce
pinch red pepper flakes

Whisk together all ingredients and set aside for up to one hour before serving. The heat will intensify the longer the sauce sits. Serve rolls either whole or cut in half with the sauce on the side.



  1. I love spring rolls too, especially with that addicting chili sauce. My boyfriend and I have been making Asian noodle dishes a lot lately, but maybe spring rolls will be next on our list. Thanks for sharing!

  2. These rolls look delicious. I love all of the fresh ingredients that you stuffed them with. I just recently made some spring rolls that were deep fried. We loved them, but this is definately a much healthier alternative!

  3. I ADORE spring rolls!!! I have been looking for a killer recipe, and BAM! You post one!

    Pinned dahling!

  4. Lovely and beautiful! The colors just pop! I love spring rolls and I know you don't like them, but give me one with shrimp and I'm a happy gal!

  5. I will take a whole platter of these, please and thank you. So colorful and a perfect summer food.

  6. This looks great! I love these with shrimp. It always looks so pretty through the cellophane rice wrapper.

  7. Jess, these look amazing...I could eat these beauties day after day. And the salad idea is marvelous as well :)

  8. Jessica, I've never even attempted to make Asian food, mainly because as you say, the ingredients are hard to find, but silly me, never thought about just making a salad. I see some dining adventures in our bear future.
    Wanted to let you know I've given you an award, for all you do with FBN and how you inspire others with your great recipes
    Be sure to drop by and check it out.

  9. love Vietnamese spring rolls, these look delicious :)


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