Kids and adults alike love these pretty and portable rice paper-wrapped salads, which make a delicious party snack, a nice light supper or a terrific lunchbox item. Even better, the kids can help make them, too!
The ingredients are simple and can be as varied as your tastes: here we've used chicken, avocado, carrots, sprouts and mint or basil, but the possibilities are endless — try poached shrimp, cooked crabmeat, shredded pork or beef, jicama, spicy sprouts, watercress, chives, scallions, cilantro, baby bok choy, red bell peppers, cucumber or shredded cabbage, for starters. The translucent rice paper wrappers let the colorful fillings shine through, making each roll a work of art.
(Don’t be intimidated by the rice paper. It’s easy to do with a little practice — and it’s yummy to eat your mistakes!)
To get the family involved, set up all the filling ingredients on the table and turn it into a do-it-yourself event. Make sure that the ingredients you’re using offer a range of colors and textures. To make roll assembly and eating easy, cut all ingredients uniformly into thin, 2-inch long matchsticks. This is a great way to use up leftovers, too!
To make the dipping sauce, place the lime juice, vinegar, and fish sauce in a small bowl. Add the hoisin sauce, brown sugar and water, and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the chile, if using. If the sauce is too strong, add a teaspoon or two of water to dilute it. For the best flavor, let the sauce sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before serving.
Prep all of the ingredients first; depending on your tastes and what you're using, you can often do this ahead of time and keep them refrigerated until assembly time.
When you're ready to make the rolls, place a clean kitchen towel on a flat work surface. Fill a bowl with warm water for dipping the rice papers. Arrange all of the prepared ingredients nearby.
Dip one rice paper round in the water and the place it on the kitchen towel. Don’t let the paper soak — just dip it in and pull it out. Blot the excess water from the round and let it rest until the paper is pliable and tacky, about 20 to 30 seconds. Place a mint or basil leaf on the lower third of the round (the edge closest to you). Add a slice or two of avocado on top of the leaf. Lay several chicken strips on top, slightly overlapping, and then arrange some carrots and sprouts on top of the chicken. Keep all of the ingredients in a neat rectangle.
Fold up the lower edge of the rice paper to just cover the ingredients, then fold the two sides of the round on the right and left inward. Roll it up to create a snug cylindrical packet. The rice paper is sticky, so it’s self-sealing. Use a sharp knife to cut one end of the roll on a diagonal, exposing the pretty filling. The rolls will keep for several hours if covered with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
Calories per serving: 280, Fat 13 grams, Cholesterol 35 mg, Sodium 510 mg, Carbohydrates 50 grams, Fiber 5 grams, Sugars 9 grams, Protein 18 grams.
Percentage Daily Values per serving (based on a 2,000-calorie diet): Vitamin A 100%, Vitamin C 25%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%, Thiamin (vitamin B1) 10%, Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 15%, Niacin 20%, Vitamin B6 25%, Folate 20%, Phosphorus 15%, Magnesium 15%, Copper 15%.