I have been wanting to try making homemade summer rolls for some time, and I finally found a good excuse. I made these for a party at my Mom and Dad's place last weekend. I made a trial run ahead of time at home for the family and we had them for dinner. The picture above is from the trial run.
I was a little worried that my kids wouldn't eat them, so I told them we were having Egg Rolls for dinner (they LOVE Egg Rolls... Egg Rolls and Chicken Balls ARE Chinese Food to them). So, we were about halfway through dinner, and Claire had eaten a couple of the summer rolls when she says, "Mommy, I think you might have done something wrong, these don't taste like Egg Rolls". So then I had to fess up and explain the difference between Egg Rolls, Spring Rolls and Summer Rolls.
I tried out two different dipping sauces in the hopes that one would emerge as a clear winner to take to the party. But, Claire and I favoured the Peanut Sauce, and Marco and Mario liked the Sweet Chili Sauce. Given the stalemate, I decided to go ahead and make both for the party. I had a lot of leftover Peanut Sauce the night that I made them at home, so I used it on a stir fry and it was fabulous. (Only the peanut sauce is pictured above, sorry!)
These aren't as finicky as one might think. The important part is to get a little system going with all your ingredients laid out in order. The night I made them at home, I had some trouble with the summer rolls sticking to each other. So for the party, I tried misting them lightly with non-stick cooking spray before I set them on the platter. Then I covered them with damp paper towels before I covered the tray in plastic wrap. This worked nicely. I made them about 2-3 hours ahead of time, and they didn't dry out, and the cooking spray kept them from sticking.
1 generous cup lettuce (I used mescalun mix)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup rice vermicelli noodles (about 2 oz uncooked)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
4 green onions, cut into 3" pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
1/4 cup chopped mint
6 oz cooked shrimp, roughly chopped
8 8” round sheets rice paper
1. Prepare all your ingredients and set into piles close to your work surface.
2. Set about 1" of hot tap water in a shallow dish that is a little bigger than the rice paper wrappers (I used a round cake pan).
3. Prepare your work surface with a couple of layers of paper towel in order to absorb the excess water from the wrappers.
4. One at a time dip the wrapper in the water. Hold each one in the water until softened (over soaking might make them easier to rip). After one or two, you'll get a feel for how soaked they should be.
5. Set the wrapper down on your paper towel and at one end stack the ingredients: noodles (about 20g per wrapper), shrimp (about 20g per wrapper), then the rest of the veggies (eyeball about 1/8 of each pile).
6. Roll burrito style. Fold the bottom up, sides in, and then roll the rest of the way. Spray with cooking spray if you are making ahead (very lightly - you don't want them to feel greasy).
7. If serving as a finger food, slice in half diagonally and set on a serving tray.
Sweet Chili Sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tsp chili paste with garlic
2 tsp soy sauce
1. Mix all ingredients together. Chill until ready to serve.
I got the Peanut Sauce recipe from the blog, The Chef and The Photographer, and it was fabulous.
2 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a small non-stick pan, saute the shallots, lemongrass, garlic and ginger in the sesame oil until soft.
2. Add broth, peanut butter, brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat, covered, for about 5 minutes.
3. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing all the juice you can out of the garlic, shallots etc.
4. Add lime juice and salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to serve.