I just picked this gorgeous Napa cabbage from my greenhouse. Now what am I going to do with it? mmm, I think I will use the top green part for a Napa cabbage slaw or I could make fish tacos and use it for the slaw to top them with, maybe I will make some spring rolls (one of my favorite foods). I could use it for traditional cabbage rolls, or use the white rib parts for a stir fry. Maybe I will save a little for my next pot of vegetable soup. Oh my the choices are so many and they are all so good. If you don’t have a Napa growing in your garden, you could buy one and be creative.
So I decided to make some spring rolls to start with. They are not the fried variety obviously, but are made with with rice paper wrappers. The wrappers are sold usually in rounds, but sometimes are square, are quite stiff, translucent, and sometimes have a basket weave-like design stamped in the wrapper. If you can’t find them in the Asian section of your grocery store, you may have to get them at an Asian grocery store. The largest and best one in this area is OMart.
Napa Cabbage and Spring Rolls
It seems like a lot of steps, but after you make them the first time, it's easy and they always turn out so good.
- Juice from one lime (about 3 TBSP)
- 2 TBSP fish sauce
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or 1 medium jalapeno minced
Rice Paper and Filling
- 3 ounces rice, green bean, or glass vermicelli noodles*
- 1/2 cup carrot, julienned or grated
- 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8" strips
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup bean sprouts (optional)
- 1/2 - 1 cup finely shredded napa cabbage (can use in addition to or instead of cucumber)
- 1/3 cup coarsely chopped unsalted roasted peanuts
- 8 rice paper wrappers
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup mint leaves (or a combination of mint and basil leaves)
- 24 cleaned and cooked medium shrimp (or cooked chicken pieces or cooked ground chicken) - optional
- Lettuce leaves, cleaned
Dipping Sauce - optional
- 1/4 cup unsweetened peanut butter
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 TBSP lime juice or rice vinegar
- Mix together all ingredients and set aside.
Rice Paper and Filling
- Soak the vermicelli in warm water for about 1/2 hour or until nicely softened, then drain well. Mix 1/2 the marinade with the vermicelli. I usually use glass or bean noodles (they are the same thing) because I like their texture. And I usually don't boil them like pasta, because if you overcook them, they turn out gummy. You can find them and rice paper in the Asian section of the grocery store.
- Combine the carrot, cucumber, onions, sprouts, cabbage, and peanuts. Toss the other half of the marinade with them. The combination of vegetables is your choice.
- Now time for the rice paper. Spread a clean, damp kitchen towel on the surface where you're working. Fill a pie pan with slightly warm water. Work with the rice paper one at a time. Immerse the rice paper in the water about 10 seconds until pliable - too short and it will be stiff, too long and they'll fall apart. Lay the rice paper on the damp towel to work with it.
- If you're using shrimp, lay 3 on the wrapper. Sprinkle cilantro and mint leaves over shrimp. Now lay on some carrot, cucumber, cabbage, or whatever you're using. Then lay on some vermicelli. Finally, wrap it like a burrito and place it on a lettuce leaf. If you are not serving right away, cover them with a damp towel.
- Note: If you use ground chicken in the filling, when you cook it, add some grated ginger.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together peanut butter, hoisin, coconut milk, red pepper, and garlic. Bring to simmer and cook 3-5 min. Add a little water if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Taste before adding salt.