|Rolls are pictured with Trader Joe’s shrimp gyoza|
I have loved basil rolls ever since having them at my favorite Thai restaurant in Georgia many years ago, but I’d never attempted to replicate them until yesterday. The herbs and cucumber give the dish such a fantastic crisp and bright taste. I’ve eaten the Trader Joe’s version a few times lately and decided I must be able to make them at home for cheaper than $4 a pop. Verdict? Delicious and refreshing! But a tad fussy, which is kind of what I was expecting.
The great part about this meal is that you can make almost every part of it ahead of time, and then you can assemble it just at the moment you want them. We made the filling ahead and were able to eat it two separate nights, and it tasted just as fresh each time.
basil shrimp spring rollsserves 4 (easily multiplied)
1/2 package (8 oz.) thick rice noodles (I used Thai Kitchen’s “stir fry” linguine shaped)1/2 package (about 16) 8 in. spring roll skins1/2 lb. deveined shrimp, thawed1 Tbs. shrimp seasoning mix of choice (we like Old Bay)1 tsp. oil2 carrots, shredded4 scallions (about 1/2 c.), sliced1 hot chile, thinly sliced1/4 c. cilantro or mint, chopped1/4 c. basil, chopped (Thai basil is best, but we had Italian basil)1 Tbs. rice vinegar1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut in thin strips4 lettuce leaves, chopped in 1 in. pieceswhole leaves of basil for wrapping
Cook noodles according to package directions. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in refrigerator until needed. Coat shrimp in oil and seasoning. Preheat greased or foil-lined baking sheet under broiler for about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Set aside to cool.
When shrimp are cool, peel and chop them and add to the bowl with the noodles (you can run these under cold water to separate if they have stuck together). Add carrots through vinegar and toss ingredients together.
Create your assembling station. Gather a large bowl of warm water, a stack of rice paper skins, and a plate lined with a tea towel.
Now comes the tricky part. Dip each skin into the water for five seconds, one at a time, and set it on the towel for about 20-30 seconds to drip dry. Don’t worry if they still seem stiff after the 5 seconds; it will soften as it sits on the towel. Carefully transfer the skin to a new plate and add a few tablespoons of filling, 1 or 2 cucumber sticks, and a few leaves of lettuce. Pull one end of wrapper around the filling. Add a leaf or two of basil to the top, then pull in the sides and finish wrapping the roll. Continue until finished!
You can serve any dipping sauce you like. We already had a peanut sauce leftover from smitten kitchen’s chicken and rice noodles, so I used that. Nate preferred a 50/50 mix of soy sauce and fish sauce. Simple doesn’t have to mean bland! Also, if you have leftover filling and just want to eat it in a bowl instead of wrapping it up, try this sauce. I love this sauce so much that I tend to make a bunch and keep it in the fridge for the random noodle salad or frozen TJ’s gyoza that comes my way.