My first years living in the US as a Lebanese immigrant would get people curious about my origin and the country I was from; I would explain that I was from Asia. This would immediately elicit a puzzled look: “Asia?
“Yes”, I would continue, “Lebanon is in Asia”. Finally I stopped saying I was from Asia. ( Lebanon is part of the Asian continent, this vast land of diverse peoples and cultures).
This dish is my attempt to explore the cuisine of the Far East and to study the commonalities between our two cuisines. I did not make strictly Vietnamese spring rolls. These have a stuffing with a definite Levantine flair; but according to those who have been willing guinea pigs, it works!
These spring rolls are not only edible, they are delicious especially if you like the taste of muhammara (red pepper sauce).
- 16 spring rolls (8 inches across)
- 1 cup of rice (medium-grain, sushi, Egyptian, Turkish, Italian or US made arborio or similar rice)
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 cup of prepared muhammara (click for recipe)
- 1 cup of diced green pepper
- 1 cup of chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 small lettuce
- 2 limes or lemons
- 1 pound of cocktail shrimps, peeled, deveined and boiled
- 1 cup of diced tomatoes
- Boil the rice or cook in a rice cooker; mix with half the muhammara sauce, making sure all grains are coated well, adding extra if not. Add to the rice the diced green peppers, chopped onions, diced tomatoes and half of the cilantro. Set aside.
- Heat some water and pour into a large pan; place one rice paper roll in the water to soften; after a few seconds, retrieve (when totally soft and pliable) and place on a work surface. Place three shrimp in the lower edge of the roll; place twi tablespoons of rice mixture on top of the shrimps, sprinkle some cilantro and a shredded lettuce leaf on top. Close the spring roll by folding it from both sides and rolling it like a package.
- Serve with some additional muhammara sauce to which you can add a few tablespoons of lemon or lime juice and a swig of soy sauce. Enjoy a light meal.