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Fresh Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce

The FRESH in this recipe refers to the fact that the ingredients are all fresh rather than deep fried. I first tasted these delicious spring rolls with my special friend, Judy. I enjoyed them so tremendously that I searched until I found this recipe in the New Canadian Basics Cookbook by Carol Ferguson. These uncooked rolls, simply wrapped in rice paper and dipped in the luscious Peanut Sauce, are a fresh-tasting alternative to the deep-fried version most people are familiar with. Vary the filling according to what you have on hand and what is in season.

2 oz. rice vermicelli

1 cup chopped, cooked shrimp or chicken

Choose any four of the following ingredients, using 1/3 cup of each and shred,

sliver or chop fine:

cucumber, water chestnuts, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, radish, green onion, bean sprouts (these should be left whole)

2 tbsp. chopped mint or coriander (we prefer coriander)

About 15, 6 inch round rice paper wrappers

In a bowl, cover the vermicelli with boiling water; let stand 3 minutes or until softened. Drain well and place in large bowl. Add shrimp or chicken, finely chopped vegetables of your choice and coriander/mint.

For each spring roll, submerge rice paper wrapper, one at a time, in a bowl of warm water until flexible, about 1 minute; remove from water and pat dry on tea towel. Spoon about 3 tbsp. filling in center of each wrapper. Roll tightly, tucking in the sides as you go. Rolls may be made in advance, covered with plastic and refrigerated for a few hours. Serve with Peanut Sauce for dipping.

Peanut Sauce for Spring Rolls

1/3 cup smooth peanut butter

3 tbsp. each: brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar or lime juice

1 tbsp. each: minced garlic, minced fresh ginger, dark sesame oil

1/2 tsp. (or to taste) chile paste, hot pepper sauce or hot pepper flakes

In food processor, blend ingredients together until smooth, adding a little water if needed. Sauce may be refrigerated for up to two weeks; bring to room temperature before serving.

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