Thursday, June 18, 2009

Simple Summer Food: Vietnamese Summer Rolls

These are such a favorite. I haven't made them in quite awhile, but we had them tonite and think I'll keep them in the summer rotation. I used to make bean sprouts myself. I should relearn that trick. Supermarket bean sprouts disappoint so often.

Summer rolls are fresh and light, consisting of rice (in the form of the wrapper and the noodles inside), vegetables and - optionally - some protein. They are what you turn to when you discover how horrid those greasy little spring rolls are for you.

A good dipping sauce is pretty much imperative. I just love Mae Ploy, available in many supermarkets for like two bucks (in a big glass jar). But a good soy based dipping sauce is nice too. That recipe follows, too.

The trickiest thing with these is dealing with the wrappers which need to be cooked quickly in nice hot water and removed by hand. Tongs just mess things up for me. The wrapper needs to stay nice and flat without folding up on itself. Once it dries - even briefly - it gets pretty sticky. Just buy a package of them and play with them until you get a hang of it. I tossed three wrappers tonite while redeveloping my summer roll skills.

Also, don't underestimate the need for soft lettuce. Romaine is not going to cut it here. Trust me. Do, however, feel free to add shrimp or chicken or tofu.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls
Print recipe only here

Makes 4 rolls


4-6 spring roll wraps (plan on ruining a few before you get the hang of them)
1-2 ounces bean thread noodles
1 T rice vinegar
1-2 carrots, grated
1-2 green onions, thinly sliced
4 pieces soft lettuce (like butter lettuce)
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
2 T fresh cilantro
2 T fresh mint

Dipping sauce:
Mae Ploy chili sauce or gyoza dipping sauce (equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar, plus a dash of hot chili oil and sesame oil, and a pinch of sesame seeds).

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Add bean thread noodles and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 3-4 minutes, then drain and rinse well with cold water. Chop roughly and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add remaining herbs and vegetables (except for the lettuce) and toss with a splash of rice vinegar.

Place a sheet pan (one with a 1-inch rim) on the stove, fill with water and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let cool down for a couple of minutes.

Submerge one rice wrapper at a time for about 10 seconds or until it's nice and pliable. Remove it carefully, keeping it in it's shape, and lay it flat on a cutting board. Place one piece of lettuce (about 2x3) in the center of the wrap and top with a generous spoonful of the filling. Fold up the sides and roll the whole thing over on itself. Reserve on a plate, seam side down, and continue cooking and filling wraps.


Unknown said...

Hello? I believe you just told me to stick my fingers into boiling water! These look great but I'm going to need further instruction on how to avoid burns before I will attempt!

Katie Fairbank said... bad. i added a line to the effect of letting it cool off a few degrees. :) it's still gonna be hot tho! i may be brave or have fingertips of steel, but i do think it's not an impossible method. and the rolls are totally worth it.

if that's not comfort enough - it's likely that using merely HOT water will do the trick as well, but that you'll just need to let the wraps sit submerged for 1-2 minutes. just play around with a couple and see how it goes.

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