You know how sometimes you’ll go through a phase where whatever it is, that’s all you want? Now it doesn’t necessarily have to be food related either. Maybe you only want to wear pink or that you are only into 80’s metal right now. Perhaps you’re so into a certain author that you scoff at the thought of looking at a book by someone else. Me, I go in food phases. Right now I’m in this Thai Peanut Sauce type phase. I love it in pasta, as a dip, with chicken, rice, all veggies. I just love it. So needless to say I had a hankering for some summer rolls. Now these rolls are known by various names: Vietnamese rolls, spring rolls, egg rolls, summer rolls and names that I can’t pronounce. For me the biggest different between these rolls and spring rolls is that these are cold where to me, spring rolls are the ones you get deep fried (or baked). Maybe I’m wrong (which is probably the case) but this is what I’m going with *wink*
Now while I try to stay true to ‘typical’ ingredients I’ve found that what’s inside of these can vary greatly herb-wise. I actually called 3 places that I know that made these and just asked what was in it. One put mint, another put basil and another put cilantro. Yeah, that helped a lot.. NOT! LOL Now for me I nixed the mint as I hate mint like that. It’s just overpowering for me – kind of like rosemary. I’ll use it but only trace amounts. Since I didn’t have fresh basil on hand but did have cilantro I went with that. As I was shopping though for the shrimp I started talking with the butcher. I told him what I was making and he pulled me aside and said “Listen, come back tomorrow as we’re having a seafood sale then. You’ll get the shrimp super cheap.” I asked how much a pound was and almost fell on the floor. $32! Yes $32 for a pound of medium raw shrimp. I looked at him and said “I don’t to buy the entire population! Holy crap! Why so much???” At that time the manager was walking by (who knows me quite well since I pretty much live in that store) and said “You okay? You look in shock.” I said “Yes I am… $32 for a pound of shrimp??? I really don’t want to come back out tomorrow for the sale. It’s supposed to be bitter cold and we’re supposed to get 8″ of snow!” He said “You’re right. We want you safe!” He then told the butcher to give it to me for the sale price and mark it as a manager’s special. I thanked him a million times. Little things like that; that’s true customer service!
If you’ve never worked with rice paper before it’s the funkiest stuff ever. When you take it out of the wrapper it’s a hard, almost plastic-y type disc. The first time I ever held one I thought “OMG they want me to eat plastic??? I’ll never digest this!” It was hard like a frisbee! LOL But when you submerge it in warm water something magical happens. Within seconds it becomes super soft and so delicate. You have to work fast with these as they tear easily so you really don’t allow them to soak in the water.
This is one of those recipes where I strongly urge you to practice mise en place. This is loosely translated into everything in it’s place. What I mean is have EVERYTHING ready to go before you start your assembling. Have your veggies chopped, shrimp cooked, herbs prepped, vermicelli rice noodles done and be ready to rock and roll. HAHA… get it “roll” Yeah I know, total dork Lor!
These summer rolls are so light and honestly not that filling. Well okay if you ate like 6 then I would assume you’d be filled up but who knows. All I know is I had to push myself away after eating 2. By themselves they are just so tender and scrumptious but pair it with my Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce and holy mother of GOD it was AMAZING!!! I ate these every day for 4 days for lunch. I just couldn’t get enough of them! See – food phase; this was all I wanted! And what I love about these is they are so healthy, packed with protein from the shrimp, have tons of vitamins and my thighs were thanking me for making them!
One thing to keep in mind about these is after you roll them it’s best to keep a damp paper towel over top as the rice paper tends to get sticky/tacky. I’ve found just a lightly damp towel over top (while in the fridge) will keep them from sticking and possibly tearing. In addition, when storing try not to have them touch.
- Rice paper
- 1 pound medium size shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
- 8 ounces of cooked vermicelli rice noodles (cooked per the packages instructions)
- 1 seedless cucumber cut into thin 4” long strips
- 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 1 head of red leaf pieces lettuce, ribs removed
- 6 green onions, chopped white and green parts
- about 1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro
Thai Peanut Sauce
- 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup regular soy sauce
- 2 Tbl rice vinegar
- 4 Tbl sesame oil
- 2 Tbl light brown sugar, packed
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger, don’t use ginger powder
- 1 1/2 tsp Sriracha (Chinese hot sauce)
- In a medium size bowl whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, brown sugar and Sriracha.
- Set the sauce aside.
- Place enough hot water (about bath water hot) in a baking dish to come up 1″. You want it deep enough to be able to submerge the rice paper.
- Place 1 rice paper in the water and gently submerge, flattening it out and allowing the paper to become soft. ~5-10 seconds.
- Place the rice paper (be careful as they are delicate now) on a flat surface.
- At the side closest to you, place a lettuce leaf.
- Top with some of the vermicelli noodles, some of the carrots, a slice of cucumber, green onions,a few sprigs of cilantro (about 4 -5 leaves) and about 4 pieces of shrimp. Now some choose to slice the shrimp in half but I prefer the whole thing.
- Using both hands, lift the side of the rice paper closest to you and over the filling, folding in both ends burrito style. With a firm hold on the part of the roll with the filling inside, continue to tightly roll away from you until the roll is sealed. The dampness of the skin will help to seal as you go.
- Serve immediately with the Spicy Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce.
- This makes ~16-20 summer rolls.
Make these the day of serving. To keep in the fridge, line the bottom of the tray with a slightly damp paper towel and place the rolls in the tray leaving room in between. If layering add plastic wrap and another damp paper towel on top. Cover with plastic wrap.