My friend, Danny, who worked on the Saga, the boat that would later be featured on the popular and dramatic show, Deadliest Catch, is also generous when it comes to sharing his reserve of sweet and delicious opilio crab. I grew up eating blue crabs from the Gulf of Mexico and have a special place in my heart for their thick juicy yield; just writing this, I can taste lump crabmeat rémoulade, seafood gumbo thick with blue crab claws, mirlitons stuffed with Gulf shrimp and crab….but, I digress…back to Alaskan crab. So, I had always heard that Alaskan King Crab was the nec plus ultra when it comes to this Northern delicacy, but recently I tasted opilio, snow crab, and although I’m not ready to give up on King, blue, and Dungeness, I have not been able to stop craving opilio’s sweet and tender meat.
Danny asked me recently to do an exchange. Fresh Alaskan opilio crab for a lesson in making fresh spring rolls. Could there have been an easier deal? I enlisted Jen, my always enthusiastic Test Kitchen partner, her daughter Rachel and my friend, Anna, baker extraordinaire, who has also rolled her fair share of spring rolls after stints at Asian restaurants. Together, we created quite a mess in the kitchen–between crab picking and roll wrapping–but it was a fun and delicious day.
Fresh Spring Rolls with Crab
Yield: 4 to 6 | Total time: 30 min
Spring rolls, also called summer rolls, are versatile and offer a burst of freshness and crunch with every bite. Often made with unseasoned rice noodles, fresh herbs, and cooked shrimp and served with a dipping sauce. What's great about these little rolls is that you can pretty much roll anything into them. I like to boost mine with a variety of herbs and whatever I might have on hand, including fresh kimchi, breakfast radishes, zucchini, and lettuces. And next time, I'd like to try some with grilled pork (sizzling with caramelized sugar and fish sauce)...the possibilities are endless.
- 8 (8-inch) rice flour spring roll wrappers
- About 2 ounces rice vermicelli or rice sticks
- About 3 cups fresh crabmeat, such as opilio or snow crab, blue crab or Dungeness
- 1 medium cucumber, cut into thin strips
- Several varieties of fresh herbs, such as Thai basil, mint, cilantro
- 1 small head of lettuce, such as Bibb, tender leaves of Romaine, spinach, etc.
- Optional/Variations: Thin strips of carrot, radish, zucchini, cooked shrimp, kimchi
Dipping Sauce: 1/2 cup hoisin + 3 generous tablespoons almond butter or peanut butter + A teaspoon or two of rice vinegar + 1 tablespoon sesame oil. COMBINE all ingredients and add a bit of hot water, as needed, to make a smooth paste.
- Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Drain, set aside to cool.
- Pick through crabmeat and discard any shells or cartilage.
- Gather all your filling ingredients on plates: fresh herbs, cooked noodles, crab or shrimp, vegetables, etc. and rice flour wrappers.
- Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a wrapper completely in the water for a few seconds--you want them to be soft but still flexible; remove and drain any excess water onto a clean kitchen towel, place on a cutting board or a large plate. They will be a bit stiff but pliable; make sure each wrapper is softened and hydrated before rolling.
5. Place lettuce leaf on the soft roll, then layer with remaining ingredients. Roll spring roll until you have about 1/3 of the wrapper left, place crab on last bit of wrapper, fold the sides in and finish rolling. You can also leave them open-ended.
6. Combine hoisin with remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Dip away.
TIPS ON ROLLING:
1) Dip the entire wrapper in the warm water, drain any excess water before wrapping.
2) Be generous but don't overfill your wrappers.
3) Roll the wrappers tightly so the filling doesn't fall out.
Date Published: June 13, 2013
All recipes have been tested by the KimSunée.com Test Kitchens unless otherwise noted.