Back in the spring, I bought rice paper, thinking, “I’m going to make spring rolls for spring!” Except in the spring, I was still living the glamorous dorm life, and I didn’t have access to the ingredients I wanted, let alone the equipment and space I needed to cook them. Luckily, rice paper has a long shelf life, and I eventually got around to making some spring rolls.
Once I got home, I had access to something I hadn’t while at school: Thai basil. Thai basil is kind of like regular basil but is…. spicier? I don’t want to say it’s actually spicy, but it has a stronger flavor and tastes SO GOOD with flavors like soy and sesame.
I made the most of small town living, and bought $1.50 worth of Thai basil from a family I’ve known for years. (Note: the Iowa City farmers market is one of my favorite places to shop, because we know the people we buy from. It’s the best thing in the world.)
I picked up some boneless chicken thighs, some (locally grown!) greens and some radishes, then went into full testing mode. Admittedly I knew the recipe would taste good, so “testing” really meant “practicing rolling the spring rolls so they don’t look awful.” I think I did okay.
And then, because I wanted it to be extra flavorful, I made a sauce as well. This is one of the more complicated recipes on this site, but I hope some of you will make it because it’s SO GOOD and remarkably filling (even though my brother said it felt like he was “eating handheld salad.”)
- 3 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons chili garlic paste
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon ginger, also grated
- 2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 boneless chicken thighs
- rice paper
- ½ cup fresh Thai basil
- 1 cup mixed lettuce
- radish, sliced
- avocado, sliced
- ¼ cup smooth peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon chili garlic paste
In a baking or casserole dish, mix together the tamari, fish sauce, chili garlic paste, garlic, ginger and basil, and whisk until you form a thick paste.
Add in the olive oil and whisk again.
Lay your chicken thighs in the marinade and move them around, making sure all sides are covered in the sauce. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour.
When you’re ready to eat, take the chicken out of the fridge and heat a large cast iron skillet to medium high. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and let cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until safely cooked through.
Slice the chicken into pieces, then let it cool completely before assembling the spring rolls.
Moisten a circle of rice paper, and lay it flat on a (preferably wooden) cutting board.
Add the lettuce, basil, chicken and avocado, then roll over once and fold in the sides. Place radish slices in the crease of that fold, then roll up the rest.
Add all the sauce ingredients into a small bowl, and whisk vigorously until a thick sauce forms. Add water until you like the consistency.
If desired, cut into pieces and dip in the sauce.