Diving Into Arugula & Shrimp Spring Rolls

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Perhaps my recent posts have been a bit off-theme for this time of year.  After all, Braised Chicken with Spinach and Couscous and Foxhollow Farm Shepherd’s Pie don’t exactly scream light and healthy which, come January one, is de rigueur.  Healthy eating can take on such an unhealthy dress however, and I find myself in rebellion January after January.
I refuse to eat rubbery, flavorless chicken breasts, to substitute real butter for something that I truly can’t believe or to eat dreaded ‘low-fat’ foods which are only made as such through the removal of all real ingredients and the replacement of at least ten foreign ‘substitutes.’  I view these spring rolls as my January compromise.
Decidedly light they pack in a healthy dose of flavor and brightness, delivering a punch of the spring and summer while the temperatures outside tell a different story.  Rice paper and rice noodles are at the heart of this dish, a blank canvas ready to wrap up an abundance of flavor.  Crunchy and colorful carrots are layered atop wild-caught shrimp, poached to a perfect crispness.
Spicy jalapeno, sriracha and green onion offer depth of flavor but are tempered, just so, by the cool, calming goodness of avocado and fresh sprigs of mint.  I can’t tell you what possessed me to add arugula to this role and I resisted the urge during the first test run.  The peppery crunch of this green kept nudging its way back into my mind and I finally gave in and was very pleased with the results.  Served with peanut sauce or all on their own, these rolls will check off all of the obligatory boxes for January’s fresh start mentality.

To begin, fill a medium pot with water and set over high heat, bringing to a boil.  While you are waiting for the water to boil prep the following: one cup of carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks, one jalapeño, sliced into matchsticks to match the carrots, two green onions, thinly sliced using both the white and green parts, one half of an avocado, thinly sliced, two cups of arugula and 16-20 fresh mint leaves.

When the water is at a boil add a tablespoon of kosher salt and then one half pound of raw, shell-on shrimp.  Make sure you have a large bowl of ice water ready.  Cook the shrimp for two to three minutes, at most, and then remove with a spider strainer or slotted spoon and place directly into the ice water to stop the cooking – do not drain the shrimp, you will want to reserve that water for the rice noodles.  Remove the shrimp from the ice water and peel, removing the tails and shells.  Slice each shrimp lengthwise and discarding the vein along the back.  Set aside.

Return the pot of water used to cook the shrimp back to a boil and add four ounces of rice noodles – half of an eight ounce box, uncooked.  Boil the noodles for three minutes and drain, running cold water overtop to stop the cooking.  Move to a shallow bowl and set aside.

Assembly time!  The rice paper is very thin and transparent and needs to be soaked in water in order for it to become pliable (discard any paper that has a hole).  I’ve found the easiest way to make this happen, as it can be a bit cumbersome, is to fill a sheet pan with water.  The rice paper can lay flat in the water and can be spun around gently.  Soak the paper until it is soft, but still intact, for approximately one and one half minutes.  Remove to a paper towel, making sure it is flat and not folded over on itself.

Working at the end of the paper that is closest to you, begin the roll with a layer of three shrimp halves. Top with several slices of carrot, two slices of jalapeño, a sprinkling of green onion, one slice of avocado and a strip of sriracha across the top.

Add rice noodles over the avocado and several sprigs of arugula.  Fold the end of the rice paper closest to you over the top of shrimp and veggies and carefully turn the roll away from you, adding gentle pressure and keeping the paper tight.

Once rolled half-way, add two sprigs of mint to the outside of the rice paper and then fold the sides of the roll in tightly, as if you were folding a burrito.  Fold the spring roll onto itself sealing the end of the rice paper over itself, creating a perfect little pouch of goodness.  The rolls may be made four hours ahead of serving.  Simply cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate.  Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!

Makes Eight Spring Rolls

  • one cup of carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks
  • one jalapeño, sliced into matchsticks to match the carrots
  • two green onions, thinly sliced using both the white and green parts
  • one half of an avocado, thinly sliced
  • sriracha
  • two cups of arugula
  • 16-20 fresh mint leaves
  • one half pound of shell-on, wild-caught shrimp
  • four ounces of uncooked rice noodles
  • rice paper

To begin, fill a medium pot with water and set over high heat, bringing to a boil.  While you are waiting for the water to boil prep the following: one cup of carrots, cut into very thin matchsticks, one jalapeño, sliced into matchsticks to match the carrots, two green onions, thinly sliced using both the white and green parts, one half of an avocado, thinly sliced, two cups of arugula and 16-20 fresh mint leaves.

When the water is at a boil add a tablespoon of kosher salt and then one half pound of raw, shell-on shrimp.  Make sure you have a large bowl of ice water ready.  Cook the shrimp for two to three minutes, at most, and then remove with a spider strainer or slotted spoon and place directly into the ice water to stop the cooking – do not drain the shrimp, you will want to reserve that water for the rice noodles.  Remove the shrimp from the ice water and peel, removing the tails and shells.  Slice each shrimp lengthwise and discard the vein along the back.  Set aside.

Return the pot of water used to cook the shrimp back to a boil and add four ounces of rice noodles – half of an eight ounce box, uncooked.  Boil the noodles for three minutes and drain, running cold water overtop to stop the cooking.  Move to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Assembly time!  The rice paper is very thin and transparent and needs to be soaked in water in order for it to become pliable (discard any paper that has a hole).  I’ve found the easiest way to make this happen, as it can be a bit cumbersome, is to fill a sheet pan with water.  The rice paper can lay flat in the water and can be spun around gently.  Soak the paper until it is soft, but still intact, for approximately one and one half minutes.  Remove to a paper towel, making sure it is flat and not folded over on itself.
Working at the end of the paper that is closest to you, begin the roll with a layer of three shrimp halves. Top with several slices of carrot, two slices of jalapeño, a sprinkling of green onion, one slice of avocado and a strip of sriracha across the top.  Add rice noodles over the avocado and several sprigs of arugula.  Fold the end of the rice paper closest to you over the top of shrimp and veggies and carefully turn the roll away from you, adding gentle pressure and keeping the paper tight.

Once rolled half-way, add two sprigs of mint to the outside of the rice paper and then fold the sides of the roll in tightly, as if you were folding a burrito.  Fold the spring roll onto itself sealing the end of the rice paper over itself, creating a perfect little pouch of goodness.  The rolls may be made four hours ahead of serving.  Simply cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate.  Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!
Lindsey McClave
Lindsey McClave has a deep love for food, wine and travel. While she has no intentions of becoming a chef or a sommelier and doesn't consider herself an expert in any culinary area, she is obsessed with learning.

She says, "the one thing I've taken away from my wine travels is that wine is meant for everyone - rich, poor, and everywhere in-between.” Whatever cooking becomes to you, she encourages you to find that foodie place, embrace it and run with it.
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