These spring rolls are a bit unconventional. I replaced the meat mixture with a spicy blend of black bean sauce (which I use for stir-frying), bean paste, chickpeas, sprouted lentils, and mushrooms. I layered mango, crisp veggies, cellophane rice noodles, garden-fresh herbs, then wrapped the ingredients in collard greens instead of traditional rice paper wrappers. I doubt they have collards in Indonesia; they’re indigenous to Southern cooking. Traditionally, collard greens are cooked long and slow with bacon. Unfortunately, by the time you eat them, the life-force energy has been cooked out of them. But prepared in the raw, they’re incredibly nutrient-dense even more than spinach, kale, and chard. You’ve probably walked right passed them in the supermarket and mistook them for philodendron leaves. They aren’t something you just cut up and throw in a salad or shred to make slaw from, which is probably why they’re so often overlooked. But if you blanch them, they’re excellent as gluten-free veggie-wraps. Blanching, like an aromatherapy steam bath, relaxes their fibrous tendons to stretch and embrace whatever ingredients you choose to wrap in them without compromising their crisp integrity. And dipped in this spicy peanut sauce, these spring rolls are so delicious, I wouldn’t care if they were wrapped with shoe leather.
Recipe notes: What you will need: Cuisinart food processor, large pot for blanching, saucepan, whisk, and mixing bowl. Prep time 1-hour. Cooking time 15-minutes. Yields 1-dozen spring rolls, 1 1/2 cups peanut sauce, and 1 1/2 cups black bean stir fry sauce. Difficulty level: Fairly easy. Nutrient levels based per serving of 2-spring rolls and 1-oz of peanut sauce.
Black Bean Sauce: Spicy, garlicky, black bean sauce is what gives Asian cooking that umami flavor. It’s a staple—like oyster sauce—I keep in my fridge for lettuce wraps and stir fry. And because I make it fresh, I control the ingredients and avoid the MSG and unwanted additives inherent in store-bought varieties (sauce can be made up to a week ahead).
- 3-Tbsp dried fermented black beans, soaked in warm water for 30-minutes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
- 2 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/3-cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1-teaspoon rice vinegar
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce or sambal oelek, for heat (optional)
- 1 ½ cups vegetable stock
- ¼ cup pitted Medjool dates
- 1Tbsp + 1tsp plum sauce
- 1-Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot dissolved in 2-Tbsp water
- Drain black beans and mash with a fork, and set aside.
- Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
- Add garlic, ginger and saute till soft and fragrant
- Add green onions and saute till softened.
- Add mashed black beans and cook for another minute
- Add remaining ingredients, except for cornstarch, and cook till dates have broken up and dissolved.
- Bring to a boil and stir in cornstarch/arrowroot mixture and simmer till thickened.
- Allow to cool
- Transfer to blender and pulse
- Store in the desired jar and refrigerate
Spicy Bean Mixture (can be made ahead and frozen into patties)
- 2 tbsp. low-sodium soy or tamari sauce
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp stevia
- 1-15oz can low sodium chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained; save that aquafaba
- 4 scallions, green and white parts, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped shallots
- 2 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1-serrano or jalapeno chili pepper, finely chopped,
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, a big handful
- 2 limes, zest, and juice
- 1-cup sprouted lentils
- 1 1/2 cups cooked mushrooms, chopped and set aside. ( if preparing 12-spring rolls, use all of the cooked mushrooms, otherwise, 1/2 cup per 4-rolls)
- In a small cup, combine, soy sauce, pepper, and stevia, stir to dissolve and set aside.
- In a bowl, mash chickpeas and set aside.
- In a food processor, add the next seven ingredients and pulse, add soy sauce mixture, sprouted lentils and pulse two to three times to form a paste. The mix will be wet.
- Transfer mixture to bowl of mashed chickpeas and combine.
- Form into (6) patties and wrap in plastic film and freeze (can be made ahead); each patty makes 2-spring rolls. If using immediately, portion bean mixture accordingly.
- In a medium-size skillet, heat 1-tbsp cooking oil, add bean mixture.
- Cook until moisture has evaporated and mixture begins to crumble.
- Stir in mushrooms, add enough black bean sauce to form a paste, and heat through.
- Transfer bean paste to a bowl and set aside for assembling spring rolls.
- 8-12 whole collard leaves, unblemished or torn, ends trimmed, or substitute with square rice paper skins
- shredded cabbage mix
- ½ red sweet red pepper thinly sliced
- 6-scallions chopped
- mint leaves torn
- basil leaves torn
- ½ bunch cilantro
- 3oz bean thread noodles (glass noodles)
- mango thinly sliced
- cucumber, thinly sliced into matchstick-size strips
- Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil.
- Prepare a large plate with a paper or kitchen towel to drain leaves and a second towel to pat them dry.
- Using tongs submerge 1- leaf at a time for 10-seconds.
- Immediately rinse under cold water and transfer to a towel to drain and pat dry.
- Repeat with remaining leaves.
- On cutting board, arrange leaf top-side down.
- Spoon and spread bean mixture just inside center spine of the leaf, leaving a leader of a couple of inches on either end for folding and rolling.
- Stack a small amount of vegetables, herbs, mango, and noodles on top of the bean mixture.
- Fold spine ends toward the center like an envelope (don’t worry if end cracks, it won’t affect the roll-up), and proceed with a burrito-style roll, tugging towards you with one hand while stretching outer lip of envelope with the other. Push away any loose vegetables that don’t fit.
- Lay spring roll seam side down, spine side up on a plate, and repeat with remaining roll-ups.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Best when served the same day.
- Using a sharp knife, slice roll on a diagonal, and serve with sauce and pickled ginger.
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
- 2tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
- ¼ cup Peanut Butter
- 2 tbsp Thai Sweet Chili Sauce
- ¼ cup Honey
- 1/2 cup Fresh Lime juice
- 2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
- 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
- 2 Serrano minced w/seeds
- 4 Chopped chives (green onion tops will work)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- In mixing bowl, whisk ingredients.
- Taste-test for desired heat level. If too spicy, add more peanut butter. If too sour, add more honey.
- Pour into a jar and refrigerate.