Here’s a sampling of what CP#1 has requested for her lunch: goat cheese wrapped in salami; mozzarella, tomato and basil on skewers; and rice and beans with lime. MP is all for healthy, creative lunches, but when CP#1 asked for fresh spring rolls, she wondered, how will I pull this off?
She enlisted the help of her friend, Watcharee Limanon, a mother of twin boys and experienced Thai chef. A Bangkok native, Watcharee has explored Thai street food and the finest Thai restaurants. She’s also studied at a number of professional cooking schools, including Le Cordon Bleu in Bangkok.
Watcharee lives on Cousins Island on a gorgeous peninsula called Potato Point, so it seemed fitting that our team join her there. “Cute Potato comes to Potato Point!” she said, laughing at the coincidence.
To our delight, Grandma Patty Potato was in town, so she joined us for the lesson. We gathered in Watcharee’s home kitchen and were met with a beautiful array of food. There was a colorful tray of vegetables, including shredded carrots, cilantro, Thai basil, and cabbage. Another tray offered shredded chicken, shrimp, and fried tofu (made healthier with an Air Fryer oven).
To start, Watcharee gave us each a Vietnamese Spring Roll wrapper. Note: you can find these on Amazon or at a local Asian Market, like Veranda in Portland. The spring roll wrappers feel like plastic when you take them out of the package, but Watcharee’s son August showed us how to dip them in water, making the wrappers soft and pliable.
Working with the wrappers takes some getting used to, but the good news is, you really can’t mess them up. We placed ours on wooden cutting boards and spread any unwieldy edges out with our hands so the wrappers lay flat. If the spring roll wrappers curled up, we placed them back in the tray of water and tried again.
The next steps are fairly simple:
- Place your veggies at the center of the wrapper, pushing them together to make a thick rectangle. You can add tofu or chicken next to the veggies to add bulk.
- Next, create a “pocket” around your veggies. Fold the base of your wrapper over them, keeping the veggies tucked inside. Then fold the edges of your wrapper over the base. The wrappers are sticky, so you can use a little water on your fingers to keep a tight fold.
- If you like, add a layer of shrimp or chicken at the edge of the fold. Gently fold the veggie pocket over the second layer. Then fold the top of your wrapper over your layers. Use your thumbs to tuck the wrapper tight.
Creating the perfect roll took some practice, but we all got the hang of it after a few tries. The end result? A huge tray of fresh spring rolls for all of us to enjoy for lunch! Better yet, Watcharee let us sample her new Thai peanut sauce, sprinkling it with ground peanuts for added flavor. MP finds it incredible that something so delicious can come out of a jar!
We loved preparing spring rolls with Watcharee at her home studio, and we can’t wait to make more this summer with friends! With a little preparation, fresh spring rolls are really easy to make. What a great way to clear out leftover veggies from the fridge!