lunch, Seafood Recipes, vegetables

Lunch: Spring Rolls three ways

March 24, 2008


Just for fun one night (haha) started to add up what we spend on food in a month. This included grocery shopping, and eating out. It was bloody ridiculous. I am not going to tell you the final amount, but my guess was so far off it wasn’t funny.

The crappy thing is that quite a bit of the cash went on rubbish lunches in the culinary wasteland of Bellevue. We work out that way (we work together.. how cute), and the options for lunch in Bellevue is pretty terrible, unless you have a decent amount of cash in your pocket. The best cheap place we have found is What the Pho, however that still comes out at nearly $20 for lunch if we don’t split. The pho tastes a touch salty too, so I know the sodium levels are crazy in it. If we were loaded with cash, we would eat at Flo’s (great sushi in Bellevue) every day. But we aren’t, so we can’t.


So there was only one thing for it. Make our lunches. We have been living on some great sandwiches of prosciutto, fennel, greens, mozzarella.. but that is starting to get old.

Looking through the fridge today I noticed that we had a ton of vegetables left over from last week’s cooking that should be eaten up before they go a wee bit funky. Stir-fry’s ain’t great the next day, and I have had enough of roasted vegetables.

I know I thought, spring rolls! Excitement built, I hadn’t made a spring roll in bloody ages. Perhaps 10 years.

I wanted to avoid the standard spring roll deal of shrimp, and an assortment of Asian vegetables. Something new I thought. But then the standard is pretty great too. Oh, and then an all veg one could be good… But wait, what is that hiding behind the milk.. smoked salmon!! ohh, I didn’t realise I still had some left from a sandwich a few days ago. I wonder what that would be like in a spring roll.. Turns out, bloody delicious.


So in the end I cranked out three different spring rolls. Something resembling a typical roll with vermicelli noodles, shrimp, carrot and cilantro. The next was an all vegetable deal that had some parsnip, celery and cabbage in. The final (and my favorite) was a smoked salmon, with cucumber, lettuce and basil.

The great thing about these rolls is that you can really mix and match the vegetables and noodles between them all. If you start making one type of roll, and say, have some carrot left over – just use it in a different kind of roll.

This needs a dipping sauce. Big time. A quick mix of hoisin sauce and sweet chilli sauce does the trick. A bit of sweetness, and a touch of heat from the chilli.

I really cannot wait for lunch tomorrow.


Spring Rolls three ways

1 handful of uncooked vermicelli rice noodles

1 packet of spring roll sheets

Shrimp and veg spring roll

1 handful of cooked shrimp, roughly chopped

2 small carrots, finely julienned

1 small handful of fresh cilantro – leaves still on the stalks

1 small handful of peanuts, lightly toasted in a pan, and chopped

Vegetable spring roll

1 large parsnip, jullienned

2 sticks of celery, jullienned

small handful of fresh basil – chiffonade

small handful of green cabbage, finely sliced

Smoked salmon roll

1/2 green lettuce, sliced

smoked salmon

small handful of fresh basil – chiffonade (parsley would work here too)

juice of 1/2 lemon

finely ground black pepper – fresh

1/2 large cucumber, finely sliced

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce

3 tablespoons hoisin sauce


Start by getting a medium pan of water boiling. Remove from the heat, and add the noodles. Let these cook for about 8 to 10 minutes. Plunge these into an ice bath to stop cooking. Drain.

Fill your sink a few inches high with warm water. Lay out a damp kitchen cloth on a work surface. Make sure you have all your ingredients to hand. Put one of the spring roll sheets in the warm water for a couple of minutes – until soft. Carefully lift out of the water and lay it out on the damp kitchen cloth. Put some noodles in a line, in the middle of the spring roll sheet. Top this with the ingredients for whatever roll you are making.

Now comes the fun part – rolling it up. Fold the side of roll sheet closest to you up and over the top of the roll ingredients. As you do this gently push the roll ingredients towards you, thus making this first fold tight. Now tuck the ends in to the middle of the roll, as far as you can. Simply roll the whole thing up away from you, and you have a spring roll.


These can take a few practice rolls to get perfect. A bit of a work of art to be honest, but heck, it just means you can eat the crappy ones.

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  • Susan Kishner March 24, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Nice writing style. I will come back to read more posts from you.

    Susan Kishner

  • Anticiplate March 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I feel your pain about the amount that you spend on food each month! We only have a family of two and we spend more than most families on four that are NOT on a budget. It is worth it though:) I see it as an entertainment expense as well.

  • T March 24, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Hey. Just wanted to make a little correction – sorry. In Vietnam these would be considered more like Salad rolls than spring rolls. Traditionally spring rolls are deep fried. Whereas these – like Vietnamese salad rolls are made fresh and eaten cold. I actually LOVE salad rolls – have already had some for lunch. But I love your idea about the smoked salmon – I’ll have to try that. 🙂

  • mattwright March 24, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    T – thanks for the correction, I never knew the difference until now. Salad rolls really are great, I agree with you there!!

    Anticiplate – We are still really a family of two.. Drake doesn’t eat that much to be a spending burden (just daycare..). We tend to buy mostly organic stuff too which hikes the price up further. Farmers markets are a decent place to save on some items though, which is good. I think I might start seeing it as an entertainment expense too 😀

  • Christel from Canada March 24, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you for this article! This seems like a seemingly inexpensive and healthy lunch idea. I look forward to trying it 😀

  • tastememory girl March 24, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    beautiful photos ~ one of my favorite snacks…..saw your entry about rolling on damp towel – yes that works awesome.

    I’ll look forward to reading more!

  • Pixie March 24, 2008 at 5:39 pm

    This looks so delicious- I’d love to have that for lunch tomorrow!!!

  • Kevin March 25, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Those spring rolls look good. Nice an fresh and tasty.

  • White On Rice Couple March 25, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Yeah!!! We’re jumping up and down right now! Great job on the springrolls and the smoked salmon is fabulous!!! We make a salmon SR too and it’s always a crowd favorite.
    We teach 2 different springroll classes down here and this subject is so very close to our hearts! It’s actually the main topic of our cookbook and we’re always excited that more and more people are making SR’s. Hopefully we can get the photography down and finished to get this book out, finally!!

  • matt wright March 25, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    White on Rice – I didn’t know you guys were doing a cookbook, and you teach classes. I would love to hear more.

    The bugger of it is, the morning after the evening that I made these rolls or lunch the next day, I came down with the stomach virus that Drake had. No food has sounded good at all, especially for some reason salad rolls. So, I haven’t even eaten that many (just a few whilst I was making them, to test flavors). Really pissed me off!!

  • Brittany March 26, 2008 at 12:30 am

    You poor things being stuck in the duldrums of eastside cuisine.
    Casa D’s on Bellevue way used to make a decent burrito, but I can’t say for sure if they still do, as I haven’t bothered to “cross the pond” in years now.
    Spring (salad) rolls are the perfect food. A co-worker of mine makes them all the time- I need to pass along that little smoked salmon number. It will blow his mind.

  • Dr. Nicole Sundene March 26, 2008 at 12:47 am

    Wow that looks so great and I have had those spring roll wrappers in my cupboard for almost a year now! I think I might just be motivated enough to do something with them now…

  • MetroBellevue March 26, 2008 at 3:59 am

    Interesting you called Bellevue a ‘culinary wasteland’ 🙂

    You mentioned Flo. We had dinner there once and thought that it wasn’t much more expensive than say I Love Sushi. Anyway, there is one dish there that I really love: Chawanmushi. It’s basically steamed egg custard with shiitake mushroon, shrimp, spinach and ginkonut cooked in this clay pot. An excellent dish.

    Another great lunch option in Bellevue is Facing East, located in Belgate Plaza (next to the Post Office and behind Key & Columbia Banks on Bellevue Way). They serve excellent Taiwanese food and lunch hours are really busy so get there early for lunch.

  • mattwright March 27, 2008 at 4:21 am

    MetroBellevue – Me more than anyone would like to see better food options, that were appropriately priced in Bellevue.. Sorry, until that happens, it is a culinary wasteland of a lot of chain restuarants, and some smaller places charging pretty much what they like – with the exception of the few places mentioned in the blog post, and possibly ooba tooba’s.

  • MetroBellevue March 27, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Matt, I think your comment about Bellevue being a ‘culinary wasteland’ needs some clarification and context. I think you were referring to the Bellevue downtown core (namely, Bellevue Square and surrounding blocks). It’s fair to call Bellevue downtown core a ‘culinary wasteland’ but I think this is true of a lot of city downtown core. Take Seattle downtown core, compared to Bellevue downtown core, Seattle downtown core surely is the bigger ‘culinary wasteland’.

    Bellevue and Seattle are two different cities in many aspects but most obviously in size and population. I don’t disagree with you that living in Seattle you have a choice of a ton of small, local cheap places for lunch. And by ‘Seattle’ I think you were referring to Queen Anne, Fremont, Ballard, Belltown, Eastlake, West Seattle, Chinatown, Wallingford, and among other neighborhoods that make up ‘Seattle’. Following the above example, I can say that living in Bellevue I have a choice (maybe not a ton like in Seattle; remember Bellevue and Seattle are two different cities) of a fair number of small, local cheap places for lunch. And by ‘Bellevue’ I am referring to Crossroads, Factoria, Bel-Red corridor, and among other neighborhoods that make up ‘Bellevue’.

    So, like Seattle downtown core, Bellevue downtown core is a ‘culinary wasteland’. And like Seattle, Bellevue offers a fair number of small, local cheap places for lunch (of course not to the scale of that in Seattle; remember Bellevue and Seattle are two different cities).

  • matt wright March 27, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Hi Metro – thanks for the reply

    Yep – I am talking about the downtown core of Belleuve. I would be interested to hear from you great small local places to eat that are outside of that area.

    As regards Seattle, nope I am talking about even the downtown core. There are some amazing small places to eat down there – Le Pichet and Matt’s in the market to name just two.

  • Dr. Nicole Sundene March 28, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Hi Matt-

    I have included this recipe in my “Whole Foods Friday” post as one of my “favorite whole foods recipes for the week”. This will be a weekly feature at my website as I try to connect my readers with healthy recipe sites and ideas.

    If you would prefer not to participate please let me know right away so I can take down your link. Otherwise feel free to send any of your favorite “foodie” friends my way so I can subscribe and review their recipe. Everyone is invited to add links to their latest and greatest healthy recipes!

    Thanks so much for doing what you do! Keep up the great work!

    ~Dr. Nicole

  • bleeding espresso March 28, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    So happy I’ve found you (through Jenn’s post about the Foodie Blogroll faves) 🙂 A friend just sent me the goods to create spring rolls in southern Italy (otherwise utterly impossible) so I’m glad for the tutorial!

  • Karina March 28, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    So fresh and beautiful! Gorgeous. I’ve been craving spring rolls all week. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Lacey March 29, 2008 at 1:48 am

    We love this idea. I am going to give it a try this weekend. Your website is fabulous. I have been looking for something like this and was gushing over anything. I really love this site though.

  • sarah March 31, 2008 at 2:02 am

    just taught myself bun. now to move on to spring rolls with the leftover noodles!

  • » Blog Archive » Cooking for 60 people. Yes SIXTY! And the White on Rice couple May 13, 2008 at 5:07 am

    […] The idea of making 60 of the little buggers however didn’t fill me with joy. When I did that post on spring rolls a while ago, it took me about 2 hours to make 15 of them – albeit with photographing […]