Little Sprouts & Loving Spring Rolls

A Snack post written by on May 5, 2014


the bat, the owl, the glowing tyger, and the king of night.
the sea fowl takes the wintry blast. for a cov’ring to her limbs:
and the wild snake, the pestilence to adorn him with gems & gold.
and trees. & birds. & beasts. & men. behold their eternal joy.
arise you little glancing wings, and sing your infant joy!
arise and drink your bliss, for every thing that lives is holy!

excerpt from william blake’s visions of the daughters of albion

My good friend from college conjured a baby out of thin air. I was pretty proud: up until now I have only seen him embracing buildings and babes. We went to a Georgian architecture school together, and of all the bachelors I’ve befriended, I was most overjoyed to see him wed despite my lateness in hearing his actual vows. Fate was against me – it was raining car accidents, the map did not navigate, the wedding gift was an untimely delivery. Basically, the weekend was a succession of failures, but I somehow manage to locate him after the ceremony to deliver dinosaur goodies including a portrait of t-rex and his dogs sledding on a slippery, snowy slope and some dino-cup coasters since that’s a thing for not sliding. He was a dino cake topper and his bride a bear; it was a glorious day for ancient cake animals.

1st Corinthians was on my mind and I thought he might need a few parental pillars to build on –  especially if they were named Faith, Hope, and Love. I was thinking this to myself because he had named her Chloe and Corinthians is a letter written to the House of Chloe. As we all know, that baby is now at the head of their house. With her diminutive feet, she makes an impractical dictator with a hunger for formulating milk – why not put some claws on that child?

So in honor of my enduring friendship with Chloe’s father, I sent the love child a green t-rex costume because we both admired giant, spotted dinosaurs. I thought it was fitting, if just a tad too large for a small newborn. Dinosaurs are remnants of my best childhood dreams – big and scary, but not when they are bones to chase. When I visit a strange city, I’m always on a mission to see their excavated bones, and I find natural museums to be as close to a habitat for faith as one can hope, especially if one is to be hunting estranged short-lived lizards in strangers’ lands.

When I was still spelling in primary school I watched a puerile presentation about dinosaurs but I got to watch it as Sunday service – not as an enactment unfortunately! It would have made for great theatrics as their terrestrial ending was an inescapable, tragic inferno. At least it was warm. Of course I was pretty infantile because I loved the thought of the Father walking and talking with dinosaurs even if I had to ignore the science of my time. Anyways – it was one of my favorite memory of church because afterwards we were praying and singing for joy and all I could think of was Jesus riding a golden triceratop through his heavenly kingdom. Baby Chloe hasn’t had this silly vision of mine, but I hope she grows a love as large as dinosaurs and remembers her father’s love for a small, baby t-rex… even if it is just a gilded unicorn for god.

My dinosaur revelries and I were also clowning around with sprouts which I often do this season so I decided to make spring rolls since it reminded me of when I had even smaller feet. Chloe’s symbol is a sprout of grass, and if you spread your grassy seeds well, you are likely to sprout a little lot of grass and you can walk bare foot in poor dino paws. I said that out loud which made giggle pretty heartily so I thought you might as well! I giggled since I was synchronously playing with my caterpillar – except I called him my lemonpillar because I made his segments with discarded lemon halves. I was a giver of sour lemonade: I built my spirits with strawberries; I was a roseate cordial, a luscious and loveless shade of divine intervention. It made me temporarily eirine, which is a tragic scene for peace, and why not, I’m pretty much done being serious ’round here right?  Puns Amore! Anyways, if you can’t forget dead dinosaurs, you might as well make a cocktail to bury eternal peace, aka sobriety.

Maybe next season I will make fried summer rolls – obviously because it must be cooked in a boiling caldera until it looks as brown as my darkest sunburns. It needs the same rice paper, but the heat is too intense for sprouts so we’ll have to revisit but with an adult vegetable. For now, these sprouts in their round rolls can be a sprouted pillar for nurturing dreams of small plants, small feet, and their fresh promise of small loves. Prost everlasting!


Spring Rolls With Sprouts

I think spring roll rceipes are practically everywhere online, so this is more of my take on how to make them into little tuffs of edible grass. Traditional rolls are made with flavorless mung bean sprouts that are white and crispy, because never developed the green leaves. Usually, herbs like mint and chinese chives are used to give the rolls more depth. I made my rolls using pea sprouts and onion sprouts. The later is very strong, so you only need a bit. If you can’t source it, you can use regular chives or chinese chives (I have fed the later to some people and they are usually not a fan bc it’s harder to chew). I also used raw yellow mushrooms. You can cook them if you want, but I think when they are raw look like little flowers sticking out of my sprouts.

I usually make these as snacks or appetizers so I cook a small portion of noodles and use whatever herbs I have around if there are no sprouts. I’ve never used basil/thai basil as it’s not customary, but you can try any combinations you like. If you are new to asian cookery, I suggest this book, which outlines vegetables and herbs. I use it to find english equivalents for names… the recipes are so-so, but they span many cuisines.

I think 3 rolls per person is more than enough and you only need a little bit of each ingredient. A package of rice noodles typically makes a lot – I’m talking about a wedding party amount. I split them up and make no more than 1/3 of one rice package at a time.

To make your own, you will need these basics:

rice paper

rice noodles

herbs & sprouts (suggestions: pea sprouts and onion sprouts; or bean sprouts, chives, and mint)

soft tofu (soft raw tofu gives the rolls a silky texture that melts on the palate, I often see fried ones in rolls, but you should consider pairing the two…)

raw yellow oyster mushrooms (shiitakes are also nice when cooked)

sauce: hoisin, peanut butter, chili garlic sauce, peanuts

+ Make a sauce by mixing hoisin and peanut butter – I prefer only a bit of peanut butter as the latter tends to make it more Thai-like than traditional Vietnamese rolls. Thin it out with a little bit of hot water. It’s a very simple concoction and I like to make it according to my mood, so you should too!  I like a small dollop of chili-garlic sauce on top along with coarsely chopped, toasted peanuts.

+ To make your rolls open-ended, soak the rice paper in water and allow it to soften. Once this happens, fold each end inwards towards the center of the circle (as shown in the second photo). This is more like sushi, but I don’t use a roller.

+ Put in your fillings, leaving a bit sticking out on each end. Then roll it very tightly. You can cut each individual roll into thirds and serve immediately.



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10 Responses to “Little Sprouts & Loving Spring Rolls”

  1. Yet another masterpiece of a post. Phi, you are pure inspiration! Also, yay to baby dinosaur costumes!

  2. molly yeh says:

    YUM! love me some william blake.

    and how gorgeous are these spring rolls?!

  3. These are absolutely stunning

  4. Lindsey says:

    these are beautiful, phi. almost too pretty to eat! loving all your creations these spring days 🙂

  5. Gabby says:

    These are absolutely gorgeous, I think I’m in love! Such a cute idea, and such a lovely recount of events 🙂

  6. I’m mesmerized by this post! So glad to have discovered your blog….

  7. […] zien er altijd al fris en gezond uit, maar deze zijn bijna te mooi om op te […]

  8. […] I can’t even deal with how beautiful these look […]

  9. […] rolled these up a few days ago. I hadn’t made summer rolls in about 10 years, but Phi’s recent post had them on my mind. Hers are a work of art and I hope she’ll make me her beautiful version […]

  10. […] rolled these up a few days ago. I hadn’t made summer rolls in about 10 years, but Phi’s recent post had them on my mind. Hers are a work of art and I hope she’ll make me her beautiful version […]

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