These fresh Vietnamese Summer or Spring Rolls are a great snack anytime of the year and a great healthy addition to any meal (as they are not fried). I really like the versatility of the spring roll because you can fill it with pretty much any meat and veggie you want and it has a delicious peanut sauce that goes with it. I have found this dish with the English translation as summer roll and spring roll so I have used both here.
Ingredients for Filling:
1 package of rice paper wrappers
½ lb pork chops (can be replaced with chicken or beef if you like)
½ lb raw shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 bunch fresh mint/cilantro leaves (optional depending on your taste)
1 head of lettuce (shredded – I use iceberg, but you can use whatever lettuce you prefer)
1-2 seedless English cucumbers (Julienne)
1-2 carrots (julienne)
1 package of rice vermicelli noodles (cooked)
*if you want more veggies in the summer roll feel free to add bean sprouts (a common ingredient in summer roll recipes)
I package firm tofu – replace meat with fried/baked ½ by 2 inch pieces
Note: For baking the tofu, to keep it healthy, cut the tofu into the desired size and place on a slightly greased baking sheet. Dab each piece of tofu with a little soy sauce for seasoning and place in a 300 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes (until the tofu is dry and firm).
Ingredients for Peanut Dipping Sauce:
1 cup water
8 Tbsp. Creamy Peanut Butter
8 Tbsp. Hoisin sauce (can be used as a dipping sauce by itself as well)
4 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
Full pieces of Romaine lettuce (used for a bed for the summer rolls)
Toasted chopped peanuts (for the dipping sauce)
Paring knife (smaller knife used to clean and devein shrimp)
Mandoline (for julienne cut on the carrots and cucumber if you don’t want to use your knife – I have also heard of people using a food processor to achieve this cut)
Medium sized pot (for boiling shrimp and pork)
Small pot (for the dipping sauce)
Large Bowl (for soaking wrapper)
Plate (for wrapping)
2 Small Bowls
Paper Towels (slightly damp to lie over the spring rolls after rolling and before serving so they don’t dry out)
Directions for the Summer Rolls:
Place medium pot with salted water on the stove to boil while you’re preparing the pork and shrimp. Take the pork chops and remove any fat. You can cut into small strips before or after boiling, whichever is easier for you. Boil in salted water until the pork is fully cooked or becomes opaque and is no longer pink. To add some flavor you can always use marinated grilled pork instead.
While the pork is boiling clean the shrimp (peel and devein) and cut the shrimp in half lengthwise (this can also be done after cooking if you find it easier). Boil the shrimp for a few minutes in the same pot that you used for the pork, but be careful not to overcook the shrimp or it will be over-curled and rubbery.
For the vermicelli rice noodles, just follow the directions on the package and make sure that they are drained well before rolling your summer rolls.
Prepare the carrots and cucumber by peeling, seeding the cucumber (removing the seeds with a spoon) and cutting in to julienne strips about 2-3 inches long. Take the strips and put in a bowl with the granulated sugar and white vinegar. This is a trick that my aunt taught me to add an extra zing to the summer rolls. While the carrots and cucumbers are soaking, shred the lettuce by cutting it into thin strips with your chef’s knife.
Before you start rolling make sure you have the following:
– Cooked and sliced pork
– Cooked and sliced shrimp
– Pickled julienne carrots and cucumbers (drain before adding to the roll)
– Shredded lettuce
– Cooked noodles
– Rice paper wrappers
– Washed mint leaves
– Bowl of warm water (to soak wrappers in)
– Damp paper towel
Wet the rice paper and wait for it to soften before adding the ingredients and rolling. When you are rolling your summer rolls, my only suggestion to the order of the filling ingredients would be to put the shrimp down first (orange side out) so the presentation is nice. Other than that just put a little bit of everything in (be careful not to over fill, or you will not be able to close the roll). Make sure to place a damp paper towel over the rolls so they don’t dry out as you are making them.
Directions for the dipping sauce:
Mix all ingredients together in small pot over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the sauce is combined well.
Freeing Hint: Sorry to say that you cannot freeze summer rolls. Even putting them in the fridge will harden the wrapper and make them much less pleasant to eat. If you do however end up with a few leftovers and can’t bear to throw them away, I would just refrigerate them in a sealed container. I would also eat them in the next day or so and put them in the microwave in 15 second increments until then wrappers have softened when you do.