Well, I personally want to thank everyone out there who this winter wished for summer weather. God has answered your prayers and parked Satan’s backside right here over the Gateway city. It has been insanely hot. So hot in fact that the idea of eating anything remotely warm is enough to make me toss down my towel, walk away from the kitchen and refuse to cook. I loathe being in the kitchen during the summer. It’s just not right to stand over a pot of boiling water when it’s almost hot enough to fry an egg on the asphalt. So how I battle the heat is I eat things that require minimum cooking time or if at all possible no cooking time. I fear for Kyle’s meat eating ways as he is in for a sore surprise when he realizes that any possibility of a roast chicken or lasagna dish will not happen until fall in my house.
With that being said there are plenty of quick dishes that you can prepare and prepare ahead of time that will allow you to enjoy your dark cool living room or if you are truly one of those summer masochists that feel the urge to go outside these are a light yet filling snack or meal that will satisfy you on your journeys into hell and back. Fresh spring/summer rolls.
Wait. Isn’t a spring roll fried? Yes it is but these are the non fried variety commonly called fresh spring rolls or fresh summer rolls. What’s the difference? It’s not fried….oh wait you meant between the spring and summer. A spring roll can be either fresh or fried and can be found in many different varieties in many different countries (egg rolls, lumpia). A summer roll is a specific Vietnamese wrapped in fresh rice paper. Spring rolls also often contain meat where as the summer roll is primarily vegetarian but can be served with shrimp and even sometimes pork. Spring rolls are also made with a wheat flour skin made with egg in the base and summer rolls made with a translucent rice flour skin. Either way both are good eats and I enjoy them frequently either by themselves or as an accompany to another dish.
You are only going to be limited with this recipe if you don’t care for fresh vegetables. That isn’t an issue in my home so the fillings are only limited by what we might have in the crisper drawers. But for the sake of this entry I’ll just post the standard typical fillings as well as a fun dipping sauce made out with peanut butter. The majority of all the ingredients if not all of them in fact can be found at your local international grocery store.
- Rice Paper Skins (Circle/Square)-1 per roll
- Rice Vermicelli Noodles (2 oz)-Can be omitted ****
- 1/2 cup julienne carrots
- 1/2 cup julienne cucumbers (seedless variety)
- mixed greens or romaine lettuce leaves torn in half
- basil (i prefer Thai basil but regular basil will work in a pinch)
- 6 poached shrimp cut in half (3 halves per roll depending on size) (leave the shell on but de-vein prior to poaching)
Ingredients: Peanut Sauce
- 1/4 c. creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon lemon/lime juice
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
In a medium sized stock pot heat water to boiling and drop in your shrimp, shell on. You can choose to season the water with some salt, peppercorns and bay leaf if you feel like it. Turn off the heat and place a lid on and let poach for 5 minute or until they turn pink. Remove from the water and let chill in an ice bath to stop the cooking process and set to the side. Refill the same stock pot and bring your water to a boil for your noodles. Once at a boil, submerge your noodles, turn off the heat and lid the pot and let it sit for 3-7 minutes (vague i know but hey i don’t make the noodles). We are just wanting the noodles to become soft. Remove from the hot water and since in cold water for 30 seconds and let sit to the side to drain. I normally will separate out my noodles into little bundles and let them sit on a paper towel while I finish my prep.
On a clean cutting board place down a piece of parchment paper or if you have it a silicone pad. This will help the rice paper skin to not adhere to your work surface, potentially causing it to rip when filling. In a large saute pan fill with warm water, not hot. The reason we dont want hot water is we dont want to cause the sheet of rice paper to buckle and curl. Just warm. Submerge your rice paper and move around for 20 seconds until soft and pliable, once the rice paper starts to soften time is against you as it will keep on absorbing any moisture left on the skin. Gently dab with a paper towel and start filling with your choice stuffings. Be careful not to over stuff as it can potentially cause it to break and you will have to start all over.
So sadly with these photos I overstuffed my summer roll because I was being impatient but it’s just for a point of reference. You don’t have to follow this method for putting your items on in any sense of the word. In fact they recommend you stack it side to side instead of on top of each other but meh to each his/her/their own.
So lay a small bundle of rice noodles down spreading out evenly (love how mine is even?!). Next you’ll place next, on it your other vegetables (lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, peppers. I recommend if doing avocado put your avocado slices UNDER your noodles. Lay your shrimp or protein of choice at the top. If using shrimp make sure the pink side is face down on the rice paper so it can show through for the finished product . I prefer having a green background against the pink of the shrimp as its more visually appealing and as everyone knows, we eat visually before we actually eat.
When you’ve got you’re desired fillings on the skin you have a few different methods of folding this bad boy shut. You can either choose to fold in the side’s first and then roll it up ala burrito style. You can start to roll from the bottom and then fold in the sides. It’s whatever is easy for you and best suits you. You do however want to make sure you roll it tight enough to keep the contents together. I do a three roll roll . Once over the noodles, once over the veggies and the last one to seal it up and show off the protein (again if using one. It’s totally optional). If making more then one be sure to cover with a damp towel to avoid the skin from drying out and breaking.
These are commonly considered appetizers but with the hot weather hellbent on destroying my desire to cook a warm dish these have been a fantastic meal replacement. Give me two with some peanut sauce on the side and I am a happy camper!. By all means swap out and put zucchini in, some jicama. Not feeling veggies make this with fruit! Just nothing to liquidy or you’re gonna get a soggy mess. Don’t want noodles? Keep em out. Nothing is set in stone with this recipe which makes it a versatile meal. Slice in half, plate it up and enjoy with a nice glass of iced tea or a cold iced Vietnamese coffee 🙂
***if not wanting to use rice vermicelli noodles you can always substitute them for cellophane noodles instead. Or even omit them entirely.