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Crispy Spring Rolls with Herb Salad

Spring rolls are traditionally served during Chinese New Year, which is also known as the Spring Festival. You can use either cellophane or rice noodles for this recipe. Cellophane noodles, which are dried noodles made from the starch of the mung bean, become soft and transparent after cooking. Rice noodles, formed from rice flour, are often labeled "rice sticks."

Ingredients:

  • 1 package (3 3/4 oz.) cellophane or rice noodles
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 lb. large prawns, peeled, deveined and
      minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 package large rice paper spring roll wrappers
      (about 20 sheets)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
  • Peanut sauce, homemade or store-bought, for
      serving (see related recipe at right)
  • Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc cham) for
      serving (see related recipe at right)

Directions:

Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Let stand at room temperature.

In a large bowl, stir together the pork, prawns, ginger, carrot, garlic, shallot, fish sauce, salt and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

Fill a large, wide bowl one-third full with cold water. Place a spring roll wrapper in the water and let soften for about 30 seconds. Lay the wrapper, smooth side up, on a cutting board. Place a pinch of noodles (about 2 oz.) horizontally in the center of the wrapper, leaving a 1-inch border on each side. Top with 2 Tbs. of the filling, spreading it out so it just reaches to the end of the noodles. Fold in the left and right sides of the wrapper and then roll from the bottom up, making sure the roll is tight as you go. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

In a deep fryer, heat the oil to 365°F according to the manufacturers instructions. Preheat an oven to 200°F.

In a small bowl, stir together the mint, cilantro and basil. Set the bowl on a large platter and place the lettuce leaves alongside.

Fry the spring rolls 3 or 4 at a time until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towellined baking sheet andkeep warm in the oven.

If desired, cut the spring rolls in half on the bias. Arrange the rolls on the platter. Instruct diners to place a roll on a lettuce leaf and top with herb salad, peanut sauce and Vietnamese dipping sauce. Serves 8.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.