Crispy Tofu Rainbow Spring Rolls with Peanut Tamarind Sauce
As much as I love the traditional Vietnamese spring rolls filled with pork and prawns. I also love playing with food and trying different flavor combinations. I decided to give the traditional spring rolls a make over and came up with these crispy tofu rainbow spring rolls with peanut tamarind sauce and it also happens to be vegan. I swapped out the meat in place of tofu and used different fillings than you would normally find in the traditional ones. These rolls contain all the colors of the rainbow that allows you to get your vegetable intake without sacrificing flavor. The crispness of the tofu, the savory sweetness of the sauce, the crunch from the vegetables, and the bright notes from the herbs makes for the perfect bite.
Spring rolls are so versatile, you can add in whatever you like but I would suggest to not skip out on the herbs. They are an essential part of Vietnamese cuisine. Although these crispy tofu rainbow spring rolls are no where near the authentic version, I personally think herbs is what makes spring rolls truly special. It just adds that zing that brings a whole new dynamic to the dish. The sauce is also more Thai based. I especially enjoy the avocado and mango in these and think they make the perfect compliment to these rolls. The avocado provides that creamy contrast to the crisp vegetables. The mango adds that bit of tartness that balances out so well with the peanut tamarind sauce.
One of the common mistakes I’ve seen others do all the time is soaking the rice paper in water for too long until it becomes flimsy. To rehydrate the rice paper, it needs to be submerged in water so that both sides are wet for about 10 seconds shaking off the excess water. I just use cold water but if you use warm water I’d suggest 3-5 seconds at most. It will still be stiff once it’s out of the water but it will further soften and become flexible while you add all the other ingredients in. This will allow you to get better tight rolls as it is easier to work with.
Spring rolls are usually served as an appetizer but you can also make these as a meal. They are light and refreshing but can also be quite filling. The noodles in them helps give it some body and makes it more satisfying as a meal. Spring rolls are also great for entertaining. I’ve made them plenty of times for parties since it’s a fun way to get together that allows everyone to build their own rolls while enjoying delicious healthy food.
- 14-ounce; 400g block firm tofu (cut into matchsticks – 2 inches long and 1/2 inch square)
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- 1/3 cup of peanut tamarind sauce
- 12 rice wrappers
- 1/3 package of rice vermicelli
- 1 small head of butterhead lettuce
- 1/2 cup red cabbage (thinly sliced)
- 2 carrots (matchsticks or julienned)
- 1 cucumbers (matchsticks)
- 1 avocado (sliced)
- 1 mango (matchsticks)
- handful of basil, cilantro, chives, and mint
- chilies and sesame seeds to garnish
- 1 ¼ cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup raw unsalted peanuts
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 2 tsp red curry paste
- 2-3 tbs coconut sugar
- 1-2 tbs tamarind
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- Drain tofu on paper towels for about 30 minutes to an hour.
- Cook noodles according to package.
- Meanwhile, prep all of the filling ingredients.
- Once noodle is done, rinse noodle under cold water to wash off excess starch. (Add a bit of oil to them to help it from clumping together and keep a damp paper towel over them.)
- Dry roast peanuts in a pan on medium heat for 3-5 minutes; tossing occasionally.
- Add to blender or food processor and process into fine pieces.
- In the same pan, pour in ¼ cup of the coconut milk and add in curry paste; cook for a minute.
- Add in peanuts; cook for another minute.
- Add in the rest of the coconut milk; cook until slightly thicken, 3-5 minutes. (It will thicken more once it’s cool, if it becomes too thick add a bit of water to loosen the sauce.)
- Add in soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic sauce, and tamarind, turn off heat; adjust seasonings to your desire preference.
- Cut the tofu.
- In a ziplock bag; add cornstarch, salt, and pepper.
- Add in tofu, shake to coat.
- On medium heat, fry the tofu for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown; drain excess oil on paper towels.
- Add in 1/4 – 1/3 cup of the peanut tamarind sauce or enough to coat the cooked tofu.
- To assemble, dip rice wrapper into a bowl of cold water until all sides are saturated; add in fillings, fold in both sides then bring up the bottom and firmly roll.
- Repeat as necessary.
- Peanut or almond butter may be substituted for the sauce if you prefer a smoother consistency.