Asian food is one of my favorite cuisines – Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Chinese etc – it’s all yummy in my book! Protein, lots of veggies and rice with some type of sauce – what’s not to like? Although I do stay away from the deep-fried options, most dishes are right up my alley!
There’s a little sushi and Asian bistro down the street from us that is always SO accommodating…if I order a dish like Moo Goo Gai Pan or Mongolian Beef, they are always willing to put my sauce on the side. I’ve never been a fan of meals drenched in sauce or dressing (like most typical Chinese restaurants), I prefer the main ingredients to be the star and have the sauce/dressing as the supporting role.
One appetizer I’ve always been a fan of are spring rolls – there is something about the rice paper wrappers that intrigues me. Though to order them at a restaurant can be a little steep when you are basically paying for two small rolls of veggies, rice noodles and an optional protein (places near me charge about $4-6 for two dinky rolls). I set out to make my own version and stopped by an Asian supermarket the other day – one pack of 20 rice paper wrappers was $1.38 – that’s less than 7 cents per wrapper!
Unlike the more traditional spring rolls, I decided to use strips of already broiled chicken breast, fresh gala apple, carrots, napa cabbage and cilantro. To test which flavor combo we liked best, I made slight variations: two rolls with both chicken and apple, two without apple, and then two vegetarian rolls without the chicken. The ones without the apple taste more like typical Asian fare but my favorite was the combo of apple and chicken together – I really enjoyed the flavors and textures and the slightly spicy peanut sauce makes this dish – YUM! You could also add thin vermicelli rice noodles to the rolls if you prefer.
Omit the chicken strips if you prefer a vegetarian roll – it is similar to a handheld salad with a delicious peanut dressing. I am not sure if tofu would work in place of chicken, maybe if you omitted the apple, I can’t say for sure since I’ve never tried the combo.
These rolls are easy to throw together since there is basically no cooking involved if you use already cooked chicken or maybe use a leftover chicken breast? You could whip this up for an appetizer, light lunch or snack as long as you have the ingredients on hand!
I had a tad bit of sauce leftover, and I may or may not have used it up with leftover apple slices 🙂 The sauce would make a delicious dressing for an Asian-inpsired coleslaw!
Apple and Chicken Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce
6 rice paper wrappers
1 cooked small chicken breast, cut into 6 strips (omit for vegetarian/vegan)
1/2 medium apple, cut into 12 strips (I left peel on but it’s to you)
3 leaves of napa cabbage, thick stem/vein removed and chopped into ribbons
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
Black or white sesame seeds, optional for serving
For Peanut Sauce
3 Tbsp hot water
2- 3 Tbsp peanut butter (I used all-natural creamy, just peanuts)
1/2 to 1 Tbsp rice vinegar (to taste, depending on how strong you want your sauce)
1/2 Tbsp gluten free soy sauce, tamari or Braggs aminos
1/2 tsp honey (agave for vegan)
1 scallion, chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, optional but strongly recommended!
1. Prepare the peanut sauce: in a small bowl, add all of the ingredients and whisk to combine. Start with the smaller amount of ingredients and add more to taste if needed.
2. To prepare the spring rolls, fill a large shallow bowl with warm-hot water (not too hot since your fingers will be in the bowl!).
3. Working one wrapper at a time, dip rice paper into water and press gently under submerged and let soften, about 30 seconds. Gently remove from water and lay flat on a plate or a cutting board (it may wrinkle but it’s ok, just carefully flatten in out).
4. Half way between the center and the edge of the wrapper, place one chicken strip, 2 apple strips, some carrot sticks, chopped cabbage and a sprinkle of cilantro (leave about 2-3 inches on both sides of wrapper).
5. Take the edge closest to the ingredients and cover them with the paper. Roll it once more and then fold the shorter left and right sides inward, like you would a burrito. Then continue wrapping and rolling sealed. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds if desired and set on serving platter.
6. Repeat with remaining 5 wrappers. Serve with peanut sauce and enjoy!