Are you looking for a meal that makes your kids do all the work? Make-your-own simple shrimp spring rolls might be the answer.
The other day, my daughter asked me why I always eat dinner standing up. I almost choked on my rice. Let’s see… By the time I can get four plates onto the table, four milks poured, four napkins laid out … kid 1 is already asking for seconds, kid 2 needs more milk, kid 3 is contemplating sharing her cooked carrots with a dog (I see you!), and kid 4 has dropped his fork and needs a new one. All of this was tricky before but these days I am also wearing a baby while negotiating these tasks. Fun times! But, once in a while, there is a meal I do get to enjoy sitting down… like Spring Rolls! Trust me, you and your kids will love these…
The beauty of a meal like make-your-own shrimp spring rolls is that you get to sit down and enjoy dinner while the kids do all the work getting their own meals ready. Someone wants seconds? Make your own! Not a carrot fan? Don’t put them in!
This recipe needs a little up front work from you but it can all be done ahead of time – poach some shrimp, chop some veggies, soak the rice noodles – all you need to do when it is time to eat dinner is get a bowl of hot water ready to soak your rice paper wrappers. That’s it. Set everything up at the dinner table or at a central workspace and let your kids make their own meal.
If you have never used rice paper wrappers, they are so much easier than you would expect. All you need is a bowl (or pie plate) with hot water. Dip one rice paper wrapper at a time in the hot water, work it around gently with your fingers so that the wrapper is completely softened. Carefully remove the softened wrapper from the pie plate to your plate and create your spring roll.
I always have my kids start by laying a large basil leaf right in the center of their rice paper wrapper. It helps to center all the other ingredients and it adds a nice complementary taste. Instead of basil, you can also use a piece of lettuce as the bottom layer. Cut up whatever veggies your kids enjoy. I thinly slice carrots and cucumbers and chop green onions. Thin rice noodles are also an essential spring roll ingredient – you only need to cook up a small handful – cook them in the same water you poached the shrimp to add flavor and save yourself a pot.
For this super simple spring roll adventure, the star of the meal was the poached shrimp. Roughly chop the shrimp into three or four pieces and, if your kids are shrimp maniacs like mine, you might want to set a limit – four pieces per spring roll perhaps?
After you have layered your ingredients in the center of your rice wrapper, fold over the back side of the wrapper, fold in the two sides, and then finish it off by neatly rolling/folding the last side over the top. Cut each roll in half for easier eating. Serve alone or with a dipping sauce. I usually have my kids make two or three rolls to start with and then they can come back and make more if they are still hungry.
We serve our spring rolls with edamame – super easy side dish! Also, a little labor intensive for the kids – more time for me to sit on my butt and enjoy my own meal.
- Rice paper wrappers
- ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 3 tablespoons tamari sauce, divided (or soy sauce)
- 1 small handful thin rice noodles, uncooked
- Large bunch, Thai basil
- 2 to 3 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- Bunch of scallions, chopped
- Handful of cilantro, chopped
- 1 lime
- Peel and devein shrimp. In a small saucepan, use enough water to cover shrimp - about 3 to 4 cups.
- Add tamari sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until shrimp is cooked.
- Remove the shrimp from the water. Keep the water!
- In a small bowl, squeeze the juice of one lime over the shrimp.
- Add 1 tablespoon of tamari, a little bit of salt and a handful of chopped cilantro.
- Toss the shrimp so that it is evenly coated.
- Take a small handful of the smallest rice noodles you can find and add it to the poaching liquid used to cook the shrimp.
- Follow the directions on the package or cook for about 6 - 8 minutes.
- Drain and set aside.
- Prepare the veggies and set out in serving dishes - thinly slice the carrots and cucumbers. Chop the green onions and a little more cilantro. Wash and dry the Thai basil leaves.
- In a pie plate, add very hot water.
- Dip rice paper wrappers into the hot water one at a time.
- Make your spring rolls by layering a basil leaf, chopped veggies, rice noodles, and shrimp.
- Fold one end of the rice wrapper over the ingredients. Fold in the sides and then finish wrapping the roll with the final side.
- Serve with dipping sauce or by themselves!