The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I felt this strong urge to get away. I had gone two hours away from home to attend college, but it didn’t feel far enough. I was still feeling the brokenness and fallout from my parents divorce nearly four years prior. With two younger siblings, financial battles waging, and a broken relationship with my father I ran away. And when I was choosing where to run I remembered a trip I had taken when I was younger to Heifer International. While visiting we stayed the night in a wooden house elevated above the ground by stilts. It was modeled after a house in the Northern parts of Thailand, and it felt like living in a tree house. We ate a simple meal of fruits and vegetables and we gave our left overs and scraps to the pig which lived directly below us. I think it appealed to me so much because it was simple, and at that time in my life I was desperate for simplicity and harmony.
So I told my mother that I was going to Thailand. I bought a ticket, I arranged to stay with a family in Thailand in exchange for a bit of daily English conversation. They got to practice their English and I got to see a new part of the world. Flight was booked, date was set, money was saved, and I flew across the world in search of some healing and solitude.
I think that it was during this part of my life that I realized how powerful I was and what I was capable of. The simple act of flying across the world by myself and being OK sparked a new phase in my life. One in which I did what I felt was right, rather than what I was thought was right. And after that my life became an adventure, and one that I was proud of. I think I did the most healing because I simply went and stepped outside of my comfort zone. And I think in doing that, I wasn’t sure what the results would be, but because I did what was right for me, the results were exactly what I needed.
When I make these spring rolls it always reminds me of my travels, because it was also where I first fell in love with worldly flavors. The rolling process for these rolls is meditative, it’s quiet, and it’s colorful–sort of how I always want my life to go.
Yields: 8 large spring rolls
- Large bowl filled with warm water
- Blender or food processor
For the spring rolls
- 8-10 rice paper spring roll wrappers (find that most local grocery stores or Asian markets)
- Carrots, shredded or Julianne
- Purple cabbage, cut into very thin strips
- Vermicelli noodles, hydrated and soaked
- 8-10 soft leaf lettuce such as butter lettuce
- 1 cup of Shrimp or seared chicken
For the sauce
- 1/4 cup sunflower butter
- 2 tbsp honey (or to taste)
- 1 tbsp lemongrass
- Sprinkle of chili flakes (optional)
- Juice from 2 limes
- Pinch of salt
- Handful of cilantro leaves
- 2 tbsp of grated ginger
- 2 cloves of grated garlic
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp tamari
For the sauce
- Combine all of the ingredients into the blender and blend until creamy and smooth. (This should be a sauce consistency, so smooth and viscous, not thick like a paste).
For the spring rolls
- Take about a 1/4 a cup of the sauce and toss your favorite meat with the sauce. Save the rest of the sauce for dipping or for later. It should have the consistency of chicken salad.
- Grab a bowl of warm water and prepare the spring roll wrappers as per the package directions. Usually I let the rice paper sit for about 15-20 seconds in the water, hold it up so the excess water can drip off and then place it on a plate.
- Assemble and roll your spring rolls, placing the butter lettuce down first. It is soft and acts as a buffer. Avoid putting carrots, cabbage, or meat right up against the rice paper because the sharp ends can puncture the rice paper and cause it to tear.
- Take your prepared spring rolls and enjoy immediately by dipping them into more sauce or just by themselves within 24 hours. The longer they are stored in the fridge the drier the rice papers become and could begin to crack.