Grilled asparagus and marinated tofu add substance to these fresh spring rolls (a.k.a. summer rolls) packed with crunchy roots, creamy avocado, and pungent fresh mint and scallions. Naturally vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.
Real talk: spring rolls are a pain. You prep vegetables, cook fillings, make a sauce, soften the wrappers, and then, after all that, you have to stand over the counter for forever rolling the slippery little buggers around ingredients that want to spray everywhere. All this for an appetizer that disappears in about 2.2 seconds. And yet, spring rolls are delicious. I want to eat them all the time.
This is why I tricked Emma into making them for me.
Emma is one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram because not only is every photo a stunner, her daily culinary creations make me want to get into the kitchen and cook. I spied these spring rolls on her Instafeed several weeks ago, and when we plotted another cooking day here in SF, I could only think of one thing I wanted to make. Or rather, that I wanted someone to make for me… (cue maniacal laughter).
We cut up tofu, tossed it in a marinade that I’m currently obsessed with (Love & Lemons’ Tofu Bahn Mi FTW), snapped asparagus, threw them both on the cast iron stovetop grill that I’m also obsessed with, set off the smoke alarm, opened all the doors and windows, washed sprouts, slivered scallions, picked mint leaves, ribboned carrots, peeled avocado, and matchsticked jicama and watermelon radish. (Whew. I’m exhausted just from writing that. Also, matchstick is totally a verb.)
When it came time to assemble the rolls, I mixed up some cocktails (another very important step in the spring roll making process) and “supervised” as Emma slaved away. The spring roll goddess knocked out these beauties in no time, and doctored up the marinade into the perfect dipping sauce, all without breaking a sweat. Girlfriend is PRO.
But the joke was on me. When Emma left, I realized that, in the flurry of chopping/grilling/drinking/smoke-alarm-setting-off, I’d forgotten to record the recipe, which meant I’d have to make spring rolls. Again. By myself.
Cut to yesterday afternoon, which found me wrestling with wrappers while simultaneously talking on the phone, trying to tune out the jackhammering going on in our building for the fifth day in a row, panicking about the cookbook edits I should have been working on, and being late to an appointment.
Jay took a break from work to hover over me in the kitchen as all this was happening, and my response was to give him a death stare and make a shooing motion with my hands because I’m a terrible person. Little did I know he had come to see how these were done so he could finish up when I had to leave. My hero!
When I returned home, the kitchen sparkled, and I opened the fridge to find three containers of pristine spring rolls snuggling together with a jar of marinade. I stopped hating the spring rolls and, as I plowed my way through four of the little guys for dinner, I was thankful for all the work that had gone into them (especially the work done by someone other than myself).
Biting into one of these rolls is heaven. A nap of salty/sweet/tangy sauce caresses a tender rice wrap, which gives way to soft tofu and asparagus, crunchy-sweet root vegetables, pungent scallions and fresh mint, and creamy avocado. The jicama, avocado, and lime give these a California twist, and they’re hearty enough to make a light meal. Spring, in a roll. (See what I did there?)
The moral of the story is: make these delicious spring rolls. But, as with all spring rolls, make them when you have a leisurely afternoon, some nice music playing, a cocktail at hand, and, preferably, a troupe of friends to sit around the table rolling rolling rolling to their heart’s content.
Thanks for reading! If you make these, show me! Take a photo and tag @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #BojonGourmet on Instagram.
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) tamari
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil (such as sunflower)
- zest of 1 medium lime
- juice of 2 medium limes
- 3 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon finely grated fresh turmeric (or ¼ teaspoon ground)
- 1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce (or Sriracha)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) maple syrup
- Oil for the grill
- 12 ounces (340 g) extra-firm tofu, cut into strips
- 1 pound (455 g) asparagus, ends snapped
- ¼ medium jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 1 small watermelon radish, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
- 2 large carrots, scrubbed and peeled into ribbons
- 3 scallions, washed and slivered on the diagonal
- 1 small bunch mint leaves, washed and dried
- a large handful pea sprouts or other sprouts, washed and dried
- 2 medium, ripe but firm avocados, seeded, peeled, and sliced
- ~20 rice paper wrappers
- In a bowl or measuring pitcher, combine the tamari, oil, lime zest and juice, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and chile garlic sauce. Whisk well to combine as much as possible – the oil will want to separate out. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade for the dipping sauce, and to it add the rice vinegar and maple syrup. Use the remainder (a scant ½ cup) to marinate the tofu in the next step.
- Press the tofu strips gently with paper towels to remove excess water, then place in a shallow baking pan in a single layer, and pour the remaining marinade (a scant ½ cup) over the tofu, tossing to combine. Let sit at least 15 minutes or up to two hours (or cover and chill for up to 2 days).
- Preheat your grill (or stovetop grill) and brush lightly with oil. Grill the tofu and asparagus in batches until cooked through and bronzed, turning once. Remove and let cool. (Alternatively, fry the tofu and asparagus in batches in a wide skillet coated with a thin layer of oil.)
- Have the jicama, watermelon radish, carrots, scallions, mint, pea sprouts, and avocados prepped and ready to go in individual bowls. Fill a shallow, wide bowl with warm water. Soak a rice paper wrapper in the water for 10 - 20 seconds, then remove and place on a cutting board. On the lower third, place some pieces of tofu, asparagus (trimmed to fit with a 1-2 inch border on each side of the wrapper), jicama, radish, carrot, scallions, mint, pea sprouts, and avocado. Fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling. Fold the edges in, then continue to roll up. It may take a few tries to get the wrapper tight around the filling without tearing it. Keep the finished rolls covered as you work so they stay moist.
- Slice the rolls in half and serve with the dipping sauce. They keep well, airtight, for up to 1 day.