April 24, 2013

Tofu Vegetable Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

“Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river” I sang as I made Vietnamese inspired spring rolls all day last Sunday.   I’m not known for recipes with long lists of ingredients or lengthy prep times, but this recipe took me close to three hours to prepare and I’m telling you it’s worth it, especially if you’re inviting over a bunch of friends who can help you with the rollin’ and the eatin’.  On my recent trip to LA to visit my sister, we pigged out at Umami Burger, Malibu Seafood, Square One Diner, Susan Feniger’s STREET and Little Dom’s... 

..but on the night before I left LA, we were craving a cleansing dinner.  We headed to Blossom Vietnamese for hot Pho Noodle Soup in sink-sized bowls and Shrimp Spring Rolls full of fresh crunchy vegetables and tender shrimp served with a creamy peanut sauce.  Since leaving LA, I’ve been obsessed with Vietnamese food and so I decided I would make spring rolls at home to celebrate spring. 

I suggest chilling these rolls for a little while before eating them so that the rice paper firms up a bit.  I would also suggest not making more than can be eaten within 24 hours because they can either dry out or become soggy beyond that.  I kept all my fillings separated neatly in one shallow bowl which I sealed and kept in the fridge until I was ready to roll more rolls.  These make such a perfectly portable lunch that I might start wrapping all my lunches in rice paper. I’m already thinking about how many different variations I can try.  Ok, it's time for you to get rolling...


Prep Time: 1.5-2 hours (depending on your knife skills)
Cook time: 26 minutes

Makes about 18 rolls, serves about 4


3/4 cup smooth (or crunchy) peanut butter
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons water to thin if necessary
2 scallions, thinly sliced


1 package extra firm tofu
1/2 cucumber
2 large carrots
5 large radish
1 small bok choy
1 package rice vermicelli
1 cup cilantro leaves (or parsley if you’re a cilantro hater)
1/2 package rice paper (large round)


1.  Mix all ingredients together until well blended.  Cover and set aside.


1.  Drain the tofu and press it between paper towels under a heavy plate for 20 minutes, changing the paper towels halfway through if necessary.

2.  Meanwhile julienne (cut into skinny matchsticks) the cucumber, carrots, radish and bok choy, making sure that the pieces are no more than 4 inches in length. Keep them in separate piles.  

3.  Roughly chop the cilantro and set it aside separately.

4.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and have tongs or a skimmer ready. Prepare a bowl of ice water as well.

5.  Blanch the carrots in the salted boiling water for 2 minutes, remove them with the tongs or skimmer and transfer them to the ice water and then remove them and set them aside.  Follow this same step with the bok choy, but only blanch it for 30 seconds.

6.  Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch slices and place the slices on a parchment lined baking sheet (or a lightly greased tin foil-lined baking sheet).  Salt the slices lightly.  Bake them for 10 minutes on one side, then flip all the slices over and bake for another 10 minutes.

7.  Meanwhile boil the rice vermicelli for 3 minutes (or whatever time is stated on the package) and then drain and set aside.

8.  Remove the baked tofu from the oven and let it cool.  Cut the tofu slices into long matchsticks.  


1.  Set the tofu, vegetables, cilantro and rice noodles on your workstation within your reach.

2.  Prepare a large bowl of very warm water big enough in which to dip the rice paper.

3.  Dip or rotate one sheet of rice paper in the warm water for only 2 seconds, making sure that every inch gets submerged.  Place the moistened rice paper on a flat surface that it won’t stick to (my cutting board worked fine). 

4.  On the side of the paper closest to you, quickly pile a small amount of rice noodle, a couple of cucumber sticks, a couple of carrot sticks, a small sprinkling of radish, a couple strips of bok choy, a couple of tofu sticks and a sprinkle of cilantro. 

5.  Wrap the closest side of the rice paper away from you, over the filling, and tuck it slightly under the filling, pulling gently back toward you to tighten.  Then roll the bundle forward a little bit, fold the two side flaps over the roll and then roll the whole thing away from you until it’s sealed.  Set the roll aside on tray or plate, keeping them separate so they don’t stick together (although they can be pulled apart gently without ripping). Continue until all the wrappers are filled. 

6.  Chill the rolls in the fridge for 10 or 20 minutes and serve.  Extra rolls can be stored, lightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (beyond this they can either dry up or become soggy).

You might also like: Escarole Poached Egg and Siracha Soup, Tofu and Herb Ravioli, Buffalo Tofu with Celery Salad


  1. Love Vietnamese food and spring rolls! These look amazing! Have to admit I gulped at the 3-hour factor but it's always good to know that in advance and then it doesn't seem so bad. These look worth the effort and would be so great for a crowd.

  2. Hi Monica! Yeah, I never imagined they would take that long but once you get the prep out of the way, you can roll them and eat them all week. They're so light that I never get sick of them! And you can fill them with whatever you want. I have to make more!

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  4. Hi Karan, thanks for stopping by! I hope you like the recipes!

    Hiya Carolina, thanks! This was my lunch and dinner for, like, two straight weeks!