My first herb exploration brought me to two local Asian grocers where I picked up Thai Basil, cilantro and mint as well as all the other necessary ingredients to make spring rolls. Inspired by a cocktail I usually order at a local restaurant, I also bought a can of lychee fruit in heavy syrup to concoct a Lychee Martini recipe.

As soon as my girlfriend came over, we shook up some of those martinis and I proceeded to show her how to make spring rolls… which brings us to the above photograph. She became a spring roll machine! I couldn’t get her to stop making them even once the rest of the meal was on the table and we were ready to eat. My last attempt to thwart her spring roll wrapping resulted in a slight tussle, a broken martini glass and a nervous barefoot dance by both of us to avoid cutting our feet.

My unfocused spring roll photo is a result of potentially blurred vision from our delectable Lychee Martinis, the mere speed of her quick and agile spring roll wrapping hands or a combination of both. I can promise you that although it is not pictured well, the spring rolls were delicous and a refreshing use of the fragrant herbs.

Lychee Martinis
1 can lychee fruit in syrup

Drain the fruit reserving the syrup. Pour 1/3 cup syrup and 1 cup vodka into a martini shaker with ice. Shake it up until is nice and cold then pour over a few lychee fruits in a martini glass.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauce
adapted from Cooking Light

8 round sheets rice paper
8 lettuce leaves
1/2 cup cooked bean threads (cellophane noodles)
1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts
1/2 cup julienne-cut seeded, peeled cucumber
1/2 cup julienne-cut carrot
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup Thai basil
Sauteed Tofu or shrimp or pork

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic
1 teaspoon salt

Add warm water to a shallow dish large enough to fit the rice papers. Let the rice paper sit in the water until soft. Place softened rice paper on a flat surface. Place a leaf of lettuce on the middle of the sheet. Top with rice noodles, carrots, cucumber, and tofu or meat. Sprinkle with a few leaves of each of hte fresh herbs. Gently fold one side of the rice paper over the filling pulling back for a tight fit and then rolling forward. Place seam side down on a platter. Makes 4 servings – 2 rolls per person.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.

These also taste great with a peanut sate sauce.