A plate of raw spring rolls is one of the most cooling, heatwave-adapted meal I can think of, so I make tons of them every summer. My dexterity doesn’t improve in what comes to the aesthetics, but I’m getting quicker every year and spring rolls have stopped being a special time-consuming and tiring dish. Since I treat them as an ordinary meal, I’ve been experimenting a lot with different fillings based on what I find in the fridge.
In recent years I realised I don’t always need glass noodles inside; I simply add more vegetables instead. Such rolls are quicker to prepare and become really super light! Normally I use fresh herbs to add an aromatic touch but since I have plenty of shiso/perilla on my balcony, this time I used it both as an aromatic herb and also instead of salad leaves. Its slight pungency is particularly refreshing and goes perfectly with cucumber. In short, one more delicious shiso dish to add to my growing list of recipes!
If you look for spring roll ideas, you might like some of these:
Spring Rolls with Leftover Roast, Carrot and Mint
Soba Noodles and Cucumber Spring Rolls
Mizuna, Carrot and Chicken Spring Rolls
Spring Rolls with Asparagus and Chicken
TIPS: Obviously, you can use any fresh herb you like, but avoid those which might be too strong, hiding all the other flavours (I think of coriander, for example; I’d use salad leaves as a second wrapping layer and some coriander leaves only as an aromatic touch).
When preparing spring rolls I usually broil or bake spicy chicken breasts or legs, but you can use leftover chicken from any dish you have made before (if your chicken isn’t spicy, you may add some hot sauce into the rolls).
You can skip mayonnaise if you don’t like it.
I think this shiso and cucumber version goes particularly well with Japanese ponzu (slightly tangy sauce), but you can serve it also with a mixture of rice vinegar, soy sauce and chilli oil.
You can use both red or green shiso. Green shiso has a slightly more delicate taste.
Preparation: about 40 minutes
Ingredients (makes 10 medium spring rolls):
10x medium rice paper sheets (22 cm)
10 big shiso leaves or 20 smaller
1 small chicken breast, baked, steamed, boiled or leftover from any chicken dish…
10 small shiso leaves, chopped or cut into threads
half a long cucumber
1 big avocado, cut in two lengthwise and sliced
Cut the cucumber into rather thin strips (their length should be equal to the rolls’ length you aim at).
Cut the chicken breast in two horizontally and then into thin strips.
Fill a big wide bowl with warm (not hot) water.
Divide the filling ingredients into ten equal portions.
Dip rice paper sheets one by one in the water, immersing them delicately so that you don’t break them.
As soon as the sheet softens (after about ten – twenty seconds), put it onto a big chopping board.
Place first one big or two smaller shiso leaves in the middle, then horizontally horizontally (at the edge which is closest to you) the cucumber, a piece of chicken breast, mayonnaise, the avocado and finally the chopped shiso.
Roll tightly starting from the edge which is closest to you.
Proceed in the same way with the remaining rolls.
Serve them immediately as they are or cut in two horizontally with ponzu or with a mixture of soy sauce, chili oil and rice vinegar.
If you wish to serve them later, wrap them individually in cling film or cover them because they dry out very quickly.