Friday, August 8, 2008

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

I'd never had anything Vietnamese until a few years ago. We were living in San Antonio and our neighbors were Thai. I learned about and tasted a lot of wonderful homemade Thai food during those couple of years they were our neighbors. They also took us to different restaurants. One of our favorites was a Vietnamese place where we fell in love with summer rolls. I found a recipe online and decided to give it a try. They were good and they really are a great summer meal.

Since these turned out, I'm excited to try more new recipes, both Vietnamese and Thai.

I found this recipe at Chow.


* 12 medium shrimp in their shells
* 2 ounces dried rice sticks or rice vermicelli
* 8 (8-1/4-inch) round rice paper wrappers
* 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, rinsed
* 24 small mint leaves (from 1 small bunch)
* 16 basil or Thai basil leaves
* 8 small sprigs cilantro
* 1 Thai hot pepper, serrano pepper, or other small hot chile pepper, seeds removed and sliced into very thin matchsticks
* 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-inch sticks
* 2 large scallions, trimmed, halved, and sliced into 3-inch lengths
* 4 Boston lettuce leaves, cut in half
* Peanut Sauce


1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are bright orange and just cooked. Drain shrimp in a colander and run cold water over them until they are cool. Peel shrimp and halve them lengthwise down the center. Cover and refrigerate.
2. Cook the rice sticks according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
3. Clear a work surface, such as a large wooden cutting board, for rolling the summer rolls and prepare a pan that is roomy enough to hold the finished rolls in a single layer. Place all filling ingredients in separate containers, and arrange them in the following order around the board: rice paper wrappers, shrimp, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, hot pepper, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
4. Fill a wide, shallow dish, large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers, with hot water. Evenly submerge one rice paper in the water for about 30 seconds, or until it is soft and pliable. Remove from the water and place on the work surface.
5. Working quickly, lay three shrimp halves in a row, cut side up, just above the center of the wrapper. Layer a scant 1/4 cup of noodles over the shrimp, followed by a few bean sprouts, 3 mint leaves, 2 basil leaves, 1 sprig of cilantro, and 2 pieces of the hot pepper (if using). Place 3 to 4 cucumber sticks and 3 to 4 scallion pieces on either side of the noodle pile. Roll one piece of lettuce into a cigar shape, and place it on top of the noodle pile.
6. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding it firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire pile up to close the top. (Don’t despair, this takes some practice!)
7. Turn each roll so that the rice paper seam faces downward and the row of shrimp faces up. Place in the prepared container.
8. Serve summer rolls with Peanut Sauce.

Peanut Sauce:


* 1/2 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
* 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
* 1 teaspoon chile-garlic paste
* 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
* Juice of 1 lime
* 1/4 cup water


1. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well combined, adding more water to thin the sauce if necessary.

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