Summer Rolls

I absolutely love Vietnamese summer rolls, so last weekend I decided to learn how to make them myself to get my fix. I find that a lot of places make them too far ahead of time (I’m looking at you, Whole Foods); by the time they come to me, the rice paper loses the nice chewy texture. The natural solution was to learn to make them myself!

I read a lot of recipes and kind of combined them so I could use the fillings I wanted. I usually order them with shrimp and pork, but I made them at home with just shrimp to keep it simple. I used lots of herbs – cilantro, basil, and mint – as well as some cooked rice noodles, lettuce, carrots, and cucumber. I love when they’re served with that peanuty hoisin sauce, so that’s what I tried to replicate. I used a recipe from this website, which called for hoisin sauce, peanut butter, garlic, and chilis. It turned out to be exactly what I had in mind.

All of the components can be made ahead of time. I boiled the shrimp for just a couple of minutes and shocked them in cold water to stop them from overcooking. I poured hot water over the rice noodles and let them soak for somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes – just enough to get them soft, but not mushy. I find that they turn out perfectly when I rinse them in cold water when they just start to get chewy. The rest of the ingredients just require chopping. The real trick is to get them rolled correctly, which I found takes some practice.


Summer Rolls

Rice paper
Cooked shrimp, sliced lengthwise
Rice noodles, cooked
Carrots, shredded (I used a peeler to achieve this)
Cucumbers, cut into long, thin strips
Romaine lettuce
Fresh cilantro
Fresh basil (Thai basil would be even better)
Fresh mint

Dipping Sauce

1 c. hoisin sauce
¼ c. smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 hot chili, minced

Start with all of the summer roll ingredients ready to go. The assembly happens fast.

Dip a rice paper into a bowl of hot water (but not boiling). Remove it as soon as it gets soft (this takes less than a minute, but varies depending on how hot the water is obviously).

Lay the soft rice paper out on a plate and start adding fillings. I probably should have started with the shrimp so that they looked nicer in the end, but I just went for it with the first filling I had next to me.

On top of the lettuce, I added cucumber, carrots, all of the herbs, and a small amount of rice noodles.

After adding the shrimp, I tucked in each end as best as possible (kind of like you’re rolling a burrito).

Not the prettiest of the bunch, but still delicious.

For the dipping sauce, simply puree all of the ingredients. I may have added a little bit more rice vinegar to suite my tastes. The recipe is pretty flexible. You’ll also need to adjust the amount of chili depending on which kind you’re using and how spicy you want the sauce.

These summer rolls were a great summer starter to have with our grilled satays.

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