Summer's not here yet but if it's warm enough to wear shorts (it was 75 degrees on Friday) it's warm enough for Vietnamese Summer Rolls. These versatile rice paper wraps can be filled with all sorts of shredded and julienned vegetables or fruit; rice vermicelli; shrimp, pork, or other meat -- or no meat; and herbs. A sweet, tangy, and spicy n ước chấm dipping sauce accompanies.
|A Thai basil ice cube|
I made these with shredded carrots, torn lettuce leaves, julienned mango, rice vermicelli, shrimp, cilantro, and Thai basil but this is just one possibility for summer rolls. I've made great ones with pork instead of shrimp before. Other vegetables like scallions and bamboo shoots can work too, and other herbs like mint. Be creative.
Rice paper is fairly easy to work with. Just immerse each wrap in hot water for 3 or 4 seconds until it gets a little soft and then place it on a damp towel. Place the fillings on the bottom 1/3 of the wrap and roll it up like a burrito. Don't overstuff; otherwise rice paper is very forgiving.
Of course, you don't even need to use the rice paper wraps -- a Vietnamese summer salad can also do the trick. Just add more lettuce and keep the other ingredients the same. Use the dipping sauce as a dressing, and maybe top with diced peanuts. The salad or a few rolls go really well paired with Phở.
Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls8 8.5-inch round rice paper wraps
8 leaves lettuce torn or chopped
1 cup cooked rice vermicelli
1/2 cup shredded peeled carrots
1/2 cup julienned almost ripe mango
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
1/4 - 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 teaspoons or to taste palm sugar (or honey or brown sugar)
2 teaspoons peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
1 chopped fresh Thai chili (Sriracha would work too)
Salt and black pepper
Lime juice to taste
|Grilling shrimp on my grill pan (thanks Westlaw!)|
2. Meanwhile grill the shrimp, seasoning with salt and pepper (or poach or broil, whatever). When they cool slightly, cut them in half length-wise.
3. While they're cooking, julienne the mango with a mandolin if you have one, otherwise cut into strips with a knife. Shred the carrots.
Dipping Sauce - Nước chấm
1. Combine fish sauce, sugar, ginger, lime juice, and Thai chili (or Sriracha) with around 1/8 cup water to thin. Add a little salt and pepper if necessary.
|The fillings, all ready to wrap|
1. Place a damp towel on a flat surface. Dip a sheet of rice paper into the bowl of hot water you saved from cooking the vermicelli. Otherwise fill a bowl large enough to dip the rice paper with hot water. Keep the rice paper in the water for 3 or 4 seconds, then remove and lay on the damp towel. The rice paper will get pretty soft so be careful.
2. Spread a lettuce leaf, carrots, mango, Thai basil and cilantro leaves, vermicelli, and shrimp on the bottom 1/3 to 1/2 of the rice paper. Fold up the bottom edge over the fillings and then fold in the sides like you're making a burrito. Then roll tightly over. Don't over stuff!
3. Cut each roll into 2 or 3 pieces and serve with lime wedges and dipping sauce.
Total time: 1 hour; less if shrimp and vermicelli are already cooked Makes 8 rolls