Preparing bean threads, which are Asian "noodles" made from the starch of the mung bean, is one of the easiest parts of making fresh spring rolls. These naturally gluten-free noodles also are called cellophane noodles, named for their nearly translucent color. Since they have almost no flavor on their own, bean threads are ideal for use in flavorful dishes, including spring rolls, which make a light, elegant appetizer.
Things You'll Need
- 2 bowls
- Hot water, tea or broth
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Dipping sauce (optional)
- Rice-paper wrappers
- Deep fryer or a large pot with a thermometer
- Cooking oil
- Slotted spoon
- Paper towels
- Serving platter
Place the bean threads in a medium or large bowl. Pour hot water over the bean threads, covering them by roughly 1 inch. You can use this step to add flavor to the bean threads by soaking them in warm tea or even broth.
Allow the bean threads to soak until they are softened, usually for about five to 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare your other filling ingredients. Some ideas include sliced scallions, bean sprouts, grated carrots, julienned cucumber, shredded Napa cabbage or small pieces of tender lettuce, and chopped herbs such as mint, basil or cilantro.
Drain the bean threads and use scissors to cut the long strands into smaller pieces that are about 2 inches long. Toss the bean threads with the rest of the filling ingredients or set them aside if you want to keep the ingredients separate.
Prepare dipping sauce by whisking your favorite combination of ingredients together. Some ideas include fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic, fresh lime juice, light-brown sugar, crushed red pepper, sesame oil, fresh ginger, rice wine and peanut butter. Set the dipping sauce aside, allowing the flavors to combine while you assemble the spring rolls.
Dip one rice-paper wrapper in a bowl of warm water, letting it soak for about one minute or until the wrapper is soft. Place the wrapper on your work surface.
Divide your filling in equal portions according to the number of spring rolls you're making.
Arrange the spring roll's filling in an oblong shape, leaving a border of about 1 inch on every side. Fold the sides of the rice paper wrapper over the filling before rolling it, creating a cylinder with a diameter of roughly 1 inch.
Repeat the process until you've made all of your fresh spring rolls.
Pour oil in to a deep fryer or a large pot and start heating it over medium-high heat. Once the oil reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit, it's ready.
Cook the spring rolls in batches if you are making a large number. Stir them occasionally, frying them for four or five minutes or until they are golden brown.
Remove the spring rolls using a slotted spoon, placing them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain excess oil. Once you are finished cooking all of the spring rolls, arrange them on your serving platter and serve them while they're hot.
Tips & Warnings
- Fill spring rolls with just vegetables and herbs to keep them vegetarian friendly. You also could add sauteed tofu, shrimp or chicken for extra protein and to transform the rolls from a light appetizer to a satisfying lunch or light dinner.
- The Chinese Kitchen; Deh-Ta Hsiung
- Beans; Aliza Green
- The Splendid Grain; Rebecca Wood
- Culinary Tea; Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern
- The Elephant Walk Cookbook; Longteine De Monteiro and Katherine Neustadt
- Photo Credit Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images