May 19, 2021
In late February 2020, my buddy Jason and I drove to nearby Minnesota to attend a fundraiser for the Bemidji State University Ducks Unlimited Chapter and hear a talk from Steven Rinella and Ryan Callaghan from Meateater.
The next morning, we headed out on to Lake Bemidji for some panfish action and dreams of a huge family get-together and fish fry.
It didn't take long for the fish to start slamming our tungsten jigs tipped with minnow heads. The golden yellow pile grew bigger and bigger as the day went on. When there was a lull in the action, we shared stories of work, our wives, our kids.
On the way home that evening, we heard on the radio that coronavirus cases outside of China had reached an alarming grand total of 1,000.
Social distancing meant the two giant bags of perch fillets sat in my freezer for a year. But with spring comes new hope and fresh ideas of new fish recipes.
These spring rolls are loaded with textures and savory-sweet flavors, and make for a great dinner or appetizer for the next time you have the opportunity to gather with family and friends.
- 8 ounces fully cooked boneless perch or other panfish fillets, diced
- 10 spring roll wrappers
- 7 ounces dry rice noodles, cooked & drained
- 1 1/4 cup purple cabbage, shredded
- 1 1/4 cup sweet potato, grated
- 5 baby carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
- 1/4 cup fresh spinach
- 11/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup peanut sauce
- Set up rice paper-rolling station with all ingredients, along with a shallow bowl with 1 inch of very warm water.
- For each roll, slide a rice paper around in the warm water for 10 seconds to wet both sides, them place on a cutting board or dinner plate.
- When rice paper is pliable, smear 1 teaspoon peanut sauce in the center of the lower third. Layer 10 cooked rice noodles, 1 tablespoon cooked perch, 2 tablespoons cabbage, 2 tablespoons sweet potato, 4 carrot matchsticks, 4 bell pepper matchsticks, 1 teaspoon cilantro, and 4 - 6 fresh spinach leaves. Bring up the bottom edge to cover the filling and roll twice. Fold in the sides and finish rolling to seal.
- Present rolls, whole or cut in half with remaining peanut sauce for spooning onto the rolls.
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