Spring Rolls in Autumn

October 9, 2020 • Nancy Wolfson-Moche

On the holiday of Sukkot we build a temporary shelter outdoors. As the leaves fall and shrivel, the days cool and light diminishes, fall reminds us of our fragility. This moment feels especially delicate. This spring roll is filled with autumn bounty. Its transparent rice paper wrapper holds and protects its contents, bearing two messages. First, like this rice paper wrapper which may tear if overstuffed, we need to find balance. And, like the transparent rice paper that reveals its contents, may transparency abound. Eat these rolls in autumn with an eye toward the transformative possibility of spring.


  • 2 sheets rice paper wrappers (I used large size here)
  • 2 large mizuna leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 red radish, washed and sliced into half-moons
  • 1 cucumber, washed and sliced into 3-inch-long spears
  • 2 pieces pickled tofu
  • 1 apple, cut into half-moons
  • 2 teaspoons umeboshi plum paste


Pour warm water into a glass or ceramic bowl until half full. Dip 1 rice paper wrapper in water. When the wrapper softens and begins to turn transparent, after about 10-20 seconds, place it on a clean, flat surface. Be sure it is soft enough to roll without splitting. You must work fast to fill it, before it gets sticky.

Place a mizuna leaf, veiny side up, shiny side down, in the center of the wrapper.

Place a log of pickled tofu on the center of the leaf. Now brush a teaspoon of the ume plum paste on it.

Lie a cucumber spear next to the tofu. Place a few radish pieces and a few apple pieces atop the tofu.

Fold in the two sides of the now softened paper. Roll the bottom up firmly to enclose the filling.

Repeat with remaining wrapper and fillings. Serve with soy sauce, as shown.

  • If you are serving more than 30 minutes after making, cover with a damp towel to prevent rolls from drying out.

Icing on the Cake: Testimonials

I’m very impressed by all the elements you are able to pack into the lesson without it seeming at all overwhelming: the review, the actual cooking skills, the creativity of coming up with their own dishes, the chance to present their creations, the opportunity to learn about and share thoughts on something else (in last week’s case, the feelings represented in the book), the execution of their  jobs, the responsibility for one’s station/implements and the overall following of directions…..all without losing the fun quotient. No wonder the kids love coming!  You’ve really created something special so kudos to you!

- T.