Cambodian-Style Spring Rolls

May  4, 2012
3 Ratings
Photo by Nicole Franzen
  • Makes 8 to 10 rolls
Author Notes

When I went back to work after my son was born, I was the luckiest mother alive to find a pediatrician's family for his day care. I know, amazing, right? A charitable organization placed several Cambodian women with them to help care for the babies and the toddlers. I never had a moment's hesitation or sense of guilt when I dropped off my boy in the morning. He was surrounded by loving women, some of whose gifts may have been enhanced by the lack of a language barrier with infants.

Each spring we had a great pot-luck picnic in a local park for all staff, children, and families. To this day among my brightest memories is the Cambodian ladies' spring rolls. These quiet, gentle women, who had probably been making them most of their lives, giggled among themselves as they watched us fall on their rolls. It mattered not what anyone else brought to share. The spring rolls were the hit of the party, and the first food to vanish. They were my first experience of rice paper wrappers, and where I learned to be unafraid of searingly hot flavors because they were balanced by opposite flavors and textures: the sweet, the tart, the spicy, the bright, the crunchy, the tender.

The dipping sauce is my own. One can never have too many mangos. But the rolls are as close to those I remember as I've been able to get over the years. Those ladies were instrumental in my culinary education before I realized how deeply I longed for one. —boulangere

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: boulangere lives in Montana, where she teaches classes about food and cooking.
WHAT: Lively, fresh spring rolls inspired by the memory of a group of Cambodian women.
HOW: The shrimp are poached in a flavorful broth that includes the mango peel! The cooked shrimp, as well as the fruit of the mango itself, go into a bright filling that is spooned into rice paper wrappers.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Whether you're planning the picnic potluck of boulangere's past or just a light Sunday lunch, these spring rolls are as tasty as they are impressive. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 16 ounces water
  • Washed peels from 2 mangos
  • I lime, 1/4" slices
  • 1/2 yellow onion, 1/2" slice
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • Several grinds of black pepper
  • 8 dried japonés chiles, broken among your fingers
  • 8 ounces uncooked shrimp (I used 31-40s peeled & deveined)
  • Bowl of ice water
  • 1/4 package mai fun rice noodles
  • 16 ounces boiling water
  • Fruit from 1 peeled mango, fruit removed, 1/4" dice
  • Greens of 6 scallions, 1/4” dice
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, halved, seeds scraped out, 1” long very narrow slices
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Olek (hot chili paste)
  • All of the cooled shrimp, tails pinched off, meat roughly chopped
  • 8 Rice paper wrappers
  • 9” cake pan containing 1/4” hot tap water
  • 16 Cilantro stems and leaves, 3" lengths
  • Fruit from 1 mango removed from pit
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sambal Olek
  1. TO STEAM THE SHRIMP: Bring to a boil in a stainless steel pot all ingredients except the shrimp and the ice water. When water is boiling, add the shrimp and reduce heat to medium. Cook shrimp only until pink on the outside and still a bit gray at the middle. They’ll finish cooking in the time it takes you to carry the pot to the bowl of ice water set in the sink. Pour contents through a colander, then place in ice water. Allow shrimp to cool completely.
  2. FOR THE SPRING ROLLS: Place mai fun in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let steep according to package directions, usually 3-5 minutes.
  3. Prepare the vegetables and add them all to a mixing bowl. Drain the mai fun well, pressing them against the sieve to remove as much water as possible. Transfer them to a cutting board and roughly chop them. Add them to the mixing bowl. Also add the lime juice and Sambal Olek.
  4. Remove shrimp from ice water and drain on paper towels. Pinch off the tails, then transfer them to your cutting board and roughly chop them also. Add them to the mixing bowl and toss everything well to blend.
  5. PREPARE THE DIPPING SAUCE: Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Purée until smooth. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Divide among dipping bowls.
  6. To prepare rolls, work with one rice paper wrapper at a time. Place wrapper in hot water, pressing lightly so it is submerged. Let soak for 15 seconds or so, then gently lift and allow to drip for a few seconds. Transfer to a work surface - a wooden cutting board works well. Arrange 2 cilantro stems across the middle. Place about 3 tablespoons of filling along the middle, leaving a border at each end. Fold the edge nearest to you over the filling, then fold in each end, and finally roll entire package over the opposite edge to seal. Set on a serving platter with the seam side down and the cilantro stems visible through the surface of the wrapper. Repeat until all filling has been used.
  7. Just before serving, cut each roll in half through the middle with a diagonal slice that exposes the beautiful colors of the filling. Serve with the dipping sauce.
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132 Reviews

Amalieknage November 26, 2022
You write 1/4 of a package of noodles. The Asian supermarket has many sizes of packages, do you have the weight in grams? Thanks! 😊
Amalieknage November 26, 2022
I would also like to add that I think the amount of sesame oil in the dipping sauce recipe is way too much. it overpowers the Mango completely. I would reduce it to 2 teaspoons, and add some neutral oil to get the same emulsion.
boulangere November 26, 2022
Most grocery store packages of fine rice noodles average 7-8 ounces, so rounding up, 1/4 would be about 2 ounces, or 56 grams. Thank you for asking.
sandyrepp August 23, 2017
The ingredient list includes "Washed peels from 2 mangos" among the ingredients for steaming the shrimp, but they aren't mentioned in the instructions. Do you line the steamer with them, put them in the steaming water, or what? Thanks.
boulangere September 17, 2017
The list of ingredients for steaming the shrimp lists the washed peels from the mangos, as you note. Instruction 1 says to bring to a boil all ingredients except the shrimp, which includes everything in the steaming ingredients, including the mango peels.
sandyrepp September 17, 2017
Thanks I missed that.
Chef D. November 28, 2015
I like these kind of spring rolls, they are great!
John November 22, 2015
These spring rolls are an absolutely winner. I always love new recipes. Thanks for sharing.
boulangere November 22, 2015
John, thank you very much for your kind words. I am delighted you enjoy them.
lorelei January 19, 2015
I don't know if anyone's mentioned this already, but these delicious rolls hold together much better if you do two layers of rice paper. It makes a huge difference! And great recipe, so easy and tasty.
boulangere January 19, 2015
Thank you, lorelei for an interesting idea. I'm very glad you enjoy them.
gingerroot July 20, 2014
These are fabulous. In addition to shrimp, I made chicken and tofu versions to accommodate potluck palates. Perfect summer fare. Can't wait to make them again.
Kristen G. February 7, 2014
Hello.. Where can I find Rice paper wrappers? Which section will it be? Please advise...
Caroline B. March 12, 2014
It should be in the Asian or International Foods section of the grocery store. In my experience, most chains sell them (I have seen them in Hy-Vee, Meijer, Kroger, and Wal-Mart, if you have those stores in your area). You could also find them online or at an Asian food store.
irene August 21, 2013
you can prepare the ingredients ahead of time, mai fun has to be microwaved for 25 seconds or so to softened...i like to sliver zucchini and grilled marinated shrimp w garlic. it gives so much flavors, as we do in our catering company saffron59.com....
beejay45 July 15, 2013
I've bought these wrappers over and over and never got up the courage to actually try to make the rolls. Thanks for the nudge. Maybe this time I'll actually do it. I love the idea of the mango in there with the shrimp!
boulangere July 16, 2013
Oh, good for you! Even if a few tear, and they will at first, you'll quickly get the hang of just how long they need to be in the water and how much filling they can (or can't) accommodate. And you'll feel fantastic for mastering something new. I hope you enjoy them.
LLStone January 29, 2013
What do you think about rolling these the night before, covering tightly, and taking to a work function? They look so good, but I would need to make them ahead. If my best bet is making the filling and rolling in the a.m., I might be able to make that work, too.
boulangere January 30, 2013
Filling & rolling in the a.m. is honestly going to be your best bet. The filling is moist enough that it tends to break down the rice paper wrappers - I learned that the hard way when I made extra so I'd have some leftovers. I ended up scooping out the filling and refilling fresh wrappers. The good news is that your filling is going to taste even better the second day!
boulangere January 30, 2013
P.S. Sorry, I forgot to mention that you can by all means make the filling a day head.
LLStone February 3, 2013
Making the filling tonight - rolling tomorrow! The filling is soo good.
boulangere February 4, 2013
I'm right there with you - I could eat a bath tub-full of it!
mainesoul July 9, 2012
I made these for a pot luck yesterday. I tripled the recipe. They were gobbled up quickly with rave reviews.
boulangere July 9, 2012
Well I guess that confirms that they're great pot luck food. Thank you; I'm so glad you got such a wonderful response!
EmilyNunn May 29, 2012
Making my mouth water, and other cliches! Congrats!
boulangere May 30, 2012
You are so kind - thank you!
Summer O. May 28, 2012
boulangere May 28, 2012
Thank you, ma'am!
lorigoldsby May 25, 2012
Congrats B! I just logged in after being gone for a month or so, and the first thing I see is your winning recipe...like a beautiful ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds, and running into a long, lost friend "hello friend!, it's going to be a lovely day!"
boulangere May 25, 2012
Thank you so much, Lori, and welcome home just in time for a holiday weekend!
sexyLAMBCHOPx May 24, 2012
Yeah! Congrats to you!
boulangere May 24, 2012
Thanks slx!
Kitchen B. May 24, 2012
Pleased for your Boulangere - I will have to give these a try, possibly this weekend. WEll done
boulangere May 24, 2012
Thank you, KB. I hope you enjoy them.
arielleclementine May 23, 2012
many congrats on a beautiful recipe, boulangere! can't wait to try these!
boulangere May 24, 2012
Thank you so much. Kiss that baby for me!
Greenstuff May 23, 2012
I am definitely making these! Many times. I've made a few similar rolls and a local caterer also makes a mango version. But the second I saw your recipe was a finalist, I thought...yes, this is now my standard. A big congratulations.
boulangere May 24, 2012
Thank you so much! I hope you enjoy them.
Greenstuff May 24, 2012
Made them tonight! I did not blend the dipping sauce, but we loved it as it was, even without blending. Congratulations once again.
boulangere May 25, 2012
It never even crossed my mind not to blend the sauce. I'm so glad you liked it, and thank you!
pierino May 23, 2012
Big Congrats to boulangere!!. Do they have mango trees in Montana? Maybe it should be on the license plate, like "Mangoes R Us".
boulangere May 23, 2012
They're the state fruit! Thanks, pierino!
cookinginvictoria May 23, 2012
Congratulations, boulangere! I agree with all of the other comments here. So happy to see you in the winner's circle! Beautiful recipe and beautiful story -- I look forward to making these spring rolls very soon. Thank you for sharing so much of your culinary experience and knowledge on food52. I have learned so much from your recipes & posts.
boulangere May 23, 2012
You are extremely kind, civ, and thank you. Food52 makes many things possible for us all.