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Mark Bittman's spring rolls, lettuce wraps and more

Spring rolls are found all over Asia — with wrappers, fillings and cooking techniques that differ from one country to the next. But don't be intimidated: Mark Bittman is here to show you just how easy they are to make. Here, the author makes rice paper rolls of shrimp and herbs, nori rolls of raw tuna, asparagus and arugula, and lettuce wraps with marinated flank steak.

Nori rolls of raw tuna, asparagus and arugula with ginger-scallion dipping sauce
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • About 1 cup rice vermicelli
    • 8 oz tuna, cut into 1/4-inch slices
    • 4 sheets of nori, 8 to 10 inches in diameter
    • 4 asparagus, blanched and cut into thin strips
    • 1 cup bean sprouts
    • 1 cup arugula
    • 1/2 cup soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger
    • 1/4 cup minced scallion

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Soak the rice noodles in fairly hot water (about 120 degrees, just too hot to touch) for 10 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain thoroughly. 2. Have all the ingredients in one place. Spritz the nori sheets all over with a little water.  4. In the middle of the nori, lay 2 or 3 slices tuna and about a quarter each of the asparagus, bean sprouts, arugula and noodles. Do not overfill. 5. Working quickly, roll up the nori, keeping it fairly tight. Now roll the nori roll in a sheet of plastic wrap or a sushi roller, again making it tight. 6. Make the dipping sauce; combine soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger and scallion. Serve or store, refrigerated, for up to a day.7. To serve: Use a sharp knife to trim the ends of each roll. Serve whole or cut into one-inch sections. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Lettuce wraps with marinated flank steak and kimchi with sriracha dipping sauce

Ingredients

    • 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla, available at Asian markets)
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 teaspoon peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1 flank steak, 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
    • 1 head Bibb lettuce
    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 2 tablespoons sriracha or other chili sauce
    • 2 cups fresh kimchi

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Combine lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or platter and marinate the steak for at least 30 minutes (if the marinating time is longer than an hour, refrigerate). Near the end of the marinating time, start a charcoal or wood fire or preheat a gas grill or broiler; make it very hot.2. Remove the meat from the marinade and dry well with paper towels. Grill or broil the steak about 4 inches from the heat source for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Move the meat to a cooler part of the grill (or lower the broiling rack) and cook for another 2 minutes per side. Check for doneness by touch, with a thin-bladed knife, or, preferably, with an instant-read thermometer (125 degrees is about right for rare to medium-rare).3. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices, across the grain, using a sharp carving knife. Let cool. 4. Separate lettuce leaves and arrange on a platter. Combine mayonnaise and sriracha and place in serving bowl. 5. Serve sliced steak, lettuce leaves, kimchi and sriracha dipping sauce on a platter and let guests assemble their own rolls. 

Rice paper rolls of shrimp and herbs with nuoc cham dipping sauce
Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

    • About 1 cup rice vermicelli
    • 8 to 12 medium to large shrimp
    • 4 sheets of rice paper, 8 to 10 inches in diameter
    • 1 cup peeled and grated, shredded, or julienned carrots
    • 2 scallions, white part with a little of the green, trimmed and cut into slivers the long way
    • 1 mango, peeled and cut into thin strips
    • 1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into thin strips or shredded
    • 20 or more mint leaves, left whole
    • About 8 sprigs cilantro, left whole
    • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1/4 teaspoon minced hot fresh chile (like Thai or jalapeño), cayenne, or hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
    • 2 teaspoons sugar

Preparation

Baking Directions:

1. Soak the rice noodles in fairly hot water (about 120 degrees, just too hot to touch) for 10 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain thoroughly. 2. Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients. Steam or simmer the shrimp over or in boiling water for 3 minutes or until pink. Run them under cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking, then peel and cut into two slices each.3. Have all the ingredients in one place; you'll also need a bowl of hot water (110 to 120 degrees) and a clean kitchen towel. Put a sheet of rice paper into the water for about 10 seconds, just until soft (don't let it become too soft; it will continue to soften as you work). Lay it on the towel. 4. In the middle of the rice paper, lay 2 or 3 shrimp and about a quarter each of the carrots, noodles, mango, scallion, and cucumber. Do not overfill. Top with mint and cilantro; don't skimp on the herbs. 5. Working quickly, roll up the rice paper, keeping it fairly tight. Now roll the rice paper roll in a sheet of plastic wrap, again making it tight. Fold over the last bit of plastic wrap in the opposite direction, forming a tab that will make it easy to unwrap. Twist ends and serve or store, refrigerated, for up to a day.6. Make the dipping sauce. Combine lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, chili and sugar and stir. Serve or store, refrigerated, for up to a day.7. To serve: Use a sharp knife to trim the ends of each roll. Serve whole or cut into one-inch sections. Serve with the dipping sauce.

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