If you ask my friends what my signature dish is, I am quite sure they would all say “the fresh spring rolls with duck”. These rolls are so tasty and easy to make, that they have been my first choice for years, when it comes to what to bring for potluck parties and other get-togethers.
The rice paper rolls go with most dipping sauces, but try to get your hands on some Japanese goma (sesame) dressing, because the sweet sesame flavor is just amazing with the duck meat. The spring rolls are best eaten immediately, but they can survive in the fridge for a day or two.
Ingredients (12 rolls)
12 rice paper wrappers
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 duck breast (14 oz)
1 small block of rice vermicelli (~ 1.7 oz dry weight)
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
Dipping sauce (Japanese sesame dressing, hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, whatever you feel like)
Cook the duck breast. I usually first fry the breast, skin-side down in a frying pan for 5-10 minutes to get the skin crispy and brown. Then I place it in a pre-heated oven (390°F) for 15-20 minutes. Though for this post, I just cooked the duck in the oven. I then went grocery shopping, forgot all about timing and when I came back, the duck had been in the oven for almost an hour, which is why it looks a bit dry in the photos:)
Take the duck out of the oven, and let it rest for 10 minutes. During that time, you can prepare the rice vermicelli and the other ingredients:
Bring 1 liter water to a boil in a pot and pour it over the rice noodles. Soak for a few minutes or until the noodles turn soft. Drain the noodles.
Chop the shallot finely. Chop the cilantro and slice the avocado. Cut the cucumber into thin sticks.
Slice the duck. I like duck skin and the fat underneath, so I keep it on, but if you think it is too fatty, cut it off.
Prepare a large bowl or a tray with hot water to dip the wrappers in. To assemble the rolls, plastic cutting boards are the best, because a wooden board will make the wrappers stick, unless you keep it soaked all the time.
Dip one wrapper in the water. You do not have to wait for it to go all soft, and be careful not to dip it in the water for too long, as it will easily tear and become jelly-like and difficult to work with.
Place the wrapper on the cutting board.
Place the ingredients you have prepared in the middle of the wrapper. Then fold the two opposite sides of the wrapper to cover the filling. Now wrap the roll tightly around the filling. It’s difficult to describe how to do it, so have a look at the pictures or the video if you are not sure how it is done.
The trick is not to pack the wrap with too much ingredients, and to roll it rather tight. In the beginning it may seem really difficult, but the learning curve is steep and after one or two attempts, I am sure you will be a spring roll wrapping champion. You can always eat the ugliest ones and check that the taste is ok:)