Recently, I had an unbelievably unique opportunity. The owner and head chef of my most beloved restaurant, Bangkok 96 (inspired Thai cuisine) gave me a private tutorial on how to make her legendary fresh rolls.
Her name is Genevieve and she is a masterful, giving and talented chef. Her fresh rolls are so special they are not even on the menu, you need to know to ask for them, which I do every time I am there. Until our class I thought this was because she only made them for me but she explained it was actually because fresh rolls are not an authentic Thai dish, but rather, Vietnamese. I’m still pretty sure she only makes them for me though.
I showed up at our arranged meeting place, an empty board room with good light and lots of table space. As I replayed the afternoon back in my mind a few hours later I thought it was so fitting that this amazing woman and chef could show me how to create vegetable alchemy in an office space with no kitchen required. Real genius and authentic generosity or knowledge will not be stifled. It was such a reminder to be local, dine locally and support the businesses that support your community. Genevieve and her husband have owned this restaurant in the community we live in for 15 years. I asked her to share her intellectual property and because she is a true artist, she believes that such beauty should be shared. The entire experience was such an honor and so exciting that I immediately came home and started to practice and have been talking about it for days. Now we can all enjoy handcrafted fresh rolls for our health and for our happiness. They make me smile and I think they will for you too. Thank you Genevieve.
- 31 cm rice papers (they feel heavy and firm in the bag)
- Assorted julienned or already slender veggies like green beans and asparagus (we used carrots, baby bok choy, spinach, bean sprouts, red and yellow peppers, cilantro, green beans and asparagus)
- Large pieces of lettuce
- Firm tofu cut into 1 inch strips
- Dipping sauces ( We used low sodium Tamari, a chili sauce made out of oil free tangerine salad dressing and crushed red pepper flakes and a peanut sauce made from peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes and agave. Yum)
You will also need:
- A large pan of cold water to dip your rice sheets in
- A large wooden cutting board to wrap rolls on
Make It Happen
- Have all of your filling ingredients ready to go. Once you moisten your rice paper your time is limited
- Run your rice paper through the water back and forth to moisten entire circle
- Set on cutting board and place lettuce closest to you on rice paper (the lettuce is put down first so the rest of the ingredients don’t poke through the rice paper)
- Lay your ingredients on top of the lettuce. Think of them as rainbow rolls and use all different colors of ingredients.
- Fold the lip closest to you over the lettuce and ingredients while you are pushing the ingredients down with your fingers and guiding them under the rice wrap.
The object is to get the tightest wrap you can from the start. Roll one and a half times making sure you have covered and tucked in both ends
- Fold both sides of the rice paper over making sure that the end farthest from you is folded in toward the middle. This will ensure that the ends of the wrap stay closed. Think of it like a really tight burrito wrap.
- Roll completely then cut decoratively or leave them whole for an easily transportable lunch or snack.
Serve these the next time you have friends and loved ones over and they will think you spent two weeks at a renowned culinary institute. These are so divine that eating them immediately makes you feel connected to all things living and green. They are sexy and satisfying, easy to do and hard to forget. I had them for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. If there were more in the fridge I would have cilantro leaves hanging out of my mouth as I type this. I am looking forward to creating these using fresh fruit as well. I was thinking melon and nectarines, sugared tofu…oh my goodness.
Below are my first ever hand crafted fresh rolls. Yeah.
Photo credits: Sherry Duquet