Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Summer rolls, of course, aren’t just for summer. A Vietnamese specialty also called fresh spring rolls, they’re delicious year-round. That said, summer is my favorite time to make them. They’re light and served at room temperature (or chilled), which is just what’s called for during the warmer months. I like to set up a make-your-own summer roll bar whereby everyone assembles their own, picking and choosing among the fixings. Last week, my kids took the lead on making the rolls, which meant far less work for the cook.
The fillings for a summer roll can be as varied as you like. My standards are shrimp, avocado, bean sprouts, cucumber, rice noodles, and fresh mint. A just-spicy-enough peanut sauce is essential for dipping.
If you’ve never made summer rolls before, it just takes a bit of practice. The technique is not far from rolling up a burrito, only using rice papers instead of tortillas. Below are a few snapshots that may provide some guidance followed by the full recipe. If you need a bit of hand holding on technique, check out this video from Fine Cooking. I also think this step-by-step guide by Andrea Nguyen is excellent. She’s a real pro. And if you are already skilled with summer rolls, please share your tips and tricks in the comments section.
Remove rice paper when it’s wet and nearly softened; it will be translucent and pliable, but may be a little stiff in spots.
Put the rice paper on the counter and lay on your favorite fillings (don’t over-stuff them). Roll up like a burrito and serve with peanut sauce.
If you like Summer Rolls, you might also want to try these Vietnamese-Style Pork Lettuce Wraps.
Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Summer rolls can be made ahead. Arrange them in a single layer (not crowded), cover with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge. Leftover Peanut Sauce makes an excellent dip with crunchy raw vegetables.
Summer Roll Fixings
- 3 ounces thin rice vermicelli noodles (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 cup coarsely grated carrots
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts
- 8 ounces medium peeled, deveined cooked shrimp
- 2 avocados, halved and sliced
- 1/2 English cucumber, cut into slender 3-inch-long spears
- Several sprigs fresh mint leaves
- Several springs fresh cilantro leavee
- Ten 8 to 9-inch rice paper sheets (see Recipe Notes)
Peanut Dipping Sauce
- 1/3 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1-2 squirts Sriracha
To Prep Summer Roll Fixings
Cook the rice vermicelli according to package directions. Drain.
Lay out all of the summer roll fixings -- vermicelli, carrots, bean sprouts, shrimp, avocado, cucumber, mint, and cilantro -- in rows on 1 to 2 trays or baking sheets. Set out the rice paper sheets.
Make the Peanut Dipping Sauce (below) to have ready.
To Make Peanut Sauce
In a small bowl, whisk together all of the Peanut Sauce ingredients until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust amount of Sriracha depending on your tolerance for heat.
Fill a cake or pie pan with hot water from the tap. Immerse one of the rice paper sheets into the water and turn until it is nearly soft and becomes pliable (a few stiff spots are ok). Remove from water and lay on your work surface, dabbing lightly with a clean dish towel.
Lay any assortment of fixings in a rectangle in the center of the rice paper, leaving a 1-inch border on either side (once you make 1 or 2 of these, you will learn the right amount of filling per roll). Fold the bottom of the rice sheet up over the filling, fold in the 2 ends, and roll it up with the fillings snug inside. Set seam side down on a platter and repeat until all 10 rolls are made.
Cut in half if you like and serve with the Peanut Sauce on the side.
Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and specialty stores as well as Asian markets.