This may just be my favorite meal EVER. I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but seriously, not only are summer rolls fun to make, but they are fun to shop for and most importantly, fun to eat.
My obsession started many years ago at a restaurant nestled in the heart of NYC’s Chinatown called Pho Pasteur. My mom found it one year while on a lunch break from jury duty, loved it, brought me, and the rest is history. Basically you choose whether you want barbecued shrimp, chicken, pork or beef ( i always go for the shrimp), and then they give you everything you need to assemble the summer rolls yourself. This includes rice paper, vermicelli noodles, a plate of cucumber, mint and lettuce, and of course, peanut, fish, hoisin and sweet chili sauces. I love the challenge of making them look good, and because you’re involved in making the food, you end up eating slower, and getting full on much less food as a result.
This summer I made them at home for the first time with my friends Jenna and Sara, and we had such a great time. I changed the recipe a little and added avocado and mango because I thought it would go well with the shrimp (it did!). I also made the artichoke olive crostini to go with it, and a delicious white wine sangria filled with peaches, mango and strawberries. This is a great picnic meal because everything travels easily and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
When I arrived in Sydney and wandered through Chinatown here, I was determined to make the summer rolls again for my new friends. Luckily Beanca happens to be an amazing photographer and took pictures of the whole process for me. You can also find them on her fantastic blog.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
Ingredients: (You can find most if not all of these in an asian grocery store)
- Shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
- (8 1/4 inch) round rice paper wrappers
- Small bundles of rice vermicelli
- Fresh mint leaves
- Cucumber, sliced into small thin pieces
- Mango, sliced into small thin pieces
- Avocado, sliced into small thin pieces
- Peanut sauce, hoisin sauce, sweet chili sauce
1. Cut mango, avocado and cucumber into slices and wash mint leaves
2. Barbeque, boil, sauté, or broil the shrimp until cooked and set aside
3. Soak the rice vermicelli in boiling water for a few minutes until soft, then drain, and set aside
4. Find a pan big enough to soak the rice papers, and fill it with hot water
5. Empty a large space such as a dining table and set up stations with everything in separate containers in this order: rice papers, vermicelli noodles, shrimp, mango/avocado/cucumber, and sauces
6. Place the rice paper in the hot water until soft and pliable, then place on a clean plate (this may be easier if two people work together to make sure the rice paper doesn’t stick to itself).
7. Place a small mound of rice vermicelli in the center, topped with 3 pieces of shrimp, then some mango/avocado/cucumber (a combination of all or one), then a piece of mint, and finally some sauce of your choice. Wrap it neatly, trying to leave the shrimp on top and the crease on the bottom (this comes with lots of trial and error, trust me).
Now finally you are ready to enjoy your masterpiece!
I sincerely hope you love these as much as I do, and I would love to hear your comments!