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Tuna Spring Rolls

As satisfying as a salty tuna salad sandwich can be, it's easy to get stuck in a recipe rut with canned tuna. I find it's more often tossed on a salad, pasta, or sandwich in the name of nutrition than used as the focal point of a carefully constructed dish. I blame canned tuna's supporting role status on an unfortunate abundance of over processed products that have an appearance and texture more like pâté than the fish from which it came. But when I spend a few more dollars on quality, micro-canned tuna, I'm inspired to make the most of this pantry staple. Large chunks of clean, juicy tuna are full of flavor and because these fish are caught young and near the surface, they lack significant amounts of harmful mercury. The last thing I want to do is hide such beautiful tuna under a blanket of creamy mayo and mustard.

For these Tuna Spring Rolls, we've paired tender pieces of fish with slivers of crunchy, fresh vegetables and chewy rice noodles. The layered flavors of aromatic herbs, bright, crisp vegetables, and briny tuna make these rolls a dynamic and healthy meal. Set up an assembly line of ingredients in the kitchen for a fun hands-on meal with friends and family, or pack assembled rolls with dipping sauce for quick, refreshing work or school lunches. I've used a wide variety of raw and cooked vegetables here, but the rolls can be easily adapted to suit the produce you have on hand.

Tuna Spring Rolls 
Serves 4-8

2 ounces rice vermicelli 
8 rice paper rounds (8.5 inch diameter) 
1 small bunch dandelion greens 
1 (7-ounce) can good quality tuna 
2-3 inch long matchstick-sized pieces of the following vegetables (or your favorites): 
1 daikon radish 
1 peeled carrot 
1 bell pepper 
1 roasted yellow beet 
3-4 green beans cut in thin pieces on the bias 
2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil

In a medium bowl, cover rice vermicelli noodles with warm water until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of water to boil, then add the soaked, drained noodles and cook about 1-2 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain thoroughly. Set aside.

Fill a large bowl with warm water and dip one wrapper quickly into the water, about 30 seconds, to soften. Lay flat on a dry, clean cloth. In a row down the center place a small amount of dandelion greens, rice noodles, and a few pieces of each vegetable. Top with a few small pieces of tuna (a small amount is better or the tuna will overpower the flavors of the vegetables) and basil. Fold one short end up and then uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper to enclose the filling. I've left one short end open to show off the bright colors, but you could also fold in both to completely enclose.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve with Sesame Dipping Sauce (below) or other spicy dipping sauce.

Sesame Dipping Sauce

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin 
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
1 tablespoon soy sauce 
2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon Siracha sauce


Caroline Ford is a food stylist, writer & recipe developer in Portland, OR. More of her writing can be found on her blog: Food. Write. Style. 

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