Summer rolls are an absolute favorite of The Goddess and her peeps. They are the perfect summer dinner on a scorching hot day, but really I can eat these any day, any time, any season. The most difficult part is rolling them, and after about 2 or 3, you get the hang of it pretty quickly. They are fast to prepare, can be made ahead, and are delicious. The kind of thing you can whip up (or roll up) after work, in a flash. I have a standard sort of filling recipe, but I change it to include or exclude things I have or don’t have on hand. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I try to be seasonal, changing the mango to apples or pears in the fall. This version is a case-in-point. I left the lettuce out completely, used red onion, extra snow peas and radishes, and a bit of jicama. This seems to work, no matter what you use. I do think the lime juice is important; don’t omit that.
Rice paper comes in different diameters and either round or square. I usually use the round and about a 10-inch diameter. I want to be able to stuff lots of stuff into the roll. For my gluten-free friends, check the labels, because not all rice paper is gluten free; some have wheat flour in them.
Goddess Summer Rolls
“Shredded Salad” Filling:
- 1/2 cup julienned cucumber
- 1/2 carrot, finely shredded
- 1/2 cup julienned mango (optional but a surprising treat)
- 6 snow peas, very thinly julienned on the diagonal
- 2 radishes, finely shredded
- 1 cup finely julienned romaine or iceberg lettuce
- 2 teaspoons finely julienned fresh mint leaves, cilantro or basil, or a mixture
- 1 large scallion very finely julienned into 2” pieces (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
For each roll:
- 1 rice paper, softened
- 3 fresh basil leaves (Thai basil is more authentic, but regular is good, too)
- 3 cooked shrimp, finely shredded chicken or cooked shredded salmon
- 3-4 tablespoons of the mango mixture
- 1-2 teaspoons hoisin sauce (optional, but damn it’s tasty—see NOTE!)
- Cooked and well-drained vermicelli rice noodles
- Thai Sweet chili sauce, for dipping
- Peanut sauce, for dipping
In a good-sized bowl, combine the tossed salad filling ingredients; sprinkle with the lime juice and toss again. There will be enough for 6-8 rolls; set aside.
To assemble the rolls: Turn the tap on until the water is just warm. Take one of the rice paper rounds and run the water over the round on both sides for about 15-20 seconds. The rice paper will still be firm. Lay is on a wet chopping board (I use a spritzer bottle to spray some water on the board before placing each dampened rice paper on the board.) Layer the ingredients in the order given, slightly below-center (toward yourself) of the softened rice paper. Beginning at the bottom, roll tightly away from yourself, bringing the sides in after the first complete roll. Serve with both Sweet chili sauce and/or peanut sauce on the side for dipping.
NOTE: You can also spread 1-2 teaspoons hoisin sauce on each softened rice paper, before you begin to stack everything or paint on some orange juice concentrate. You can vary the veggies; you may use some bean sprouts, shredded cooked green beans or raw shredded beets, etc. For the herbs, I like a combination of cilantro and mint, using more cilantro, but that’s just my preference.
To Make Ahead: Place each roll in a red lettuce leaf (it’s pretty) and place on a plate (I mist them just a bit with water). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for no more than 3 hours. Make certain the rice paper part of the rolls don’t come in contact with each other or they will stick together.
Goddess Summer Rolls Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
The very first thing to do is cook the shrimp, if you aren’t purchasing precooked shrimp. Make certain you keep the shrimp very cold and don’t store (in the fridge) more than 24 hours. Next, you need to soak the vermicelli noodles in hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain them well. They tend to to hang on to water like crazy. I put them on paper toweling to drain. They will be sort of sticky, but they don’t seem to ever stick to the paper towels. This too, can be done the day before; drop into a plastic bag and refrigerate. Now you’re ready to rock ‘n roll!
These really are quite easy, but you have to get a feel for them. I don’t submerge the rice paper in water, instead I hold each sheet under the faucet and let the water run over it, as I use them. The rice paper round will still be quite firm, but when placed on the wet chopping board, it softens by the time you want to roll it.
Now you put the “guts” into the roll! I usually place the “salad” mixture on, then the shrimp (or whatever your protein is), but some people do it the other way around. The layering here is as follows: hoisin, tossed salad, shrimp, basil and cilantro leaves and the vermicelli in at the back.
Now you just roll it up. It’s important to roll these quite tightly, then fold in the sides, don’t worry if they aren’t perfectly smooth. Now continue to roll, keeping the roll tightly together. As you can see, there is a small tear, but it will be “fixed” when you finish the roll. Don’t worry, be happy….everything will work out in the end. This is the summer roll version of a lobster roll. If you are serving these as a first course or appetizer, you can make them 2-3 hours ahead, placing each roll in a lettuce leaf; romaine leaves or red lettuce leaves work great, and you can simply eat the leaf with the summer roll, if you desire. The sauce is a sweet chili sauce that compliments the blend of flavors nicely. The shrimp in these rolls were cooked the day before and were in the fridge just waiting to be used. By the way, just so you don’t think The Goddess is trying to put something over on you, there are actually 3 different versions of summer rolls here. The first picture has some of the Green With Envy Sauce, the pictures showing the rolling process have some mayonnaise, lobster, “salad”, but no vermicelli and the final picture is really what the recipe describes. So, as you can see, these can be anything your little heart desires…or whatever leftovers need to find there way out of your fridge. I’ve even done a pulled pork version with cole slaw that worked much better than I thought it would. Try things…go out on a culinary limb…the branch won’t break and if it does, you won’t fall very far. I promise!