This is another recipe for the I-can’t-stand-the-heat-but-want-to-be-in-the-kitchen files: a delightful, cool, simple meal. I think “summer rolls” must be called that because it’s way too hot to stand over a hot stove deep-frying them into spring rolls. Also, with their transparent skins, they look kind of naked; when it’s this hot, that sounds like an awfully good idea.
Summer rolls also have the advantage of being fun to assemble—you soak the rice paper in hot water until it softens, carefully transfer the now-transparent paper to your plate, spoon in the filling, bundle it all up, and dip away. I suppose you could also roll up a bunch in advance, but I much prefer doing it one at a time, savoring each as you go.
There’s something about these rolls that is also especially good with friends, perhaps because of the fun process of making them. In this case, thanks to Dana, her summery plates, and her willingness to share a bottle of vinho verde. Also, thanks to Alastair for first introducing me to the beauty of these—and a Pimm’s cup—on a hot summer day.
Vegetable and Mint Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Adapted, barely from The Kitchn
Note: this recipe is a great template. I imagine mango or papaya would be delicious in here, along with the bean threads, radishes, and scallions called for by the original recipe that I omitted. I also have this idea that it would be delicious to put a scoop of ice cream on a wrapper and dip the roll in a chocolate or berry sauce.
For the sauce:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the rolls:
1 seedless cucumber
1 carrot, peeled
1 red bell pepper
16 cooked shrimp, cut into smallish pieces
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
juice from 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped
16-24 fresh mint leaves, chopped
rice paper wrappers
Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
Use a mandoline to slice the cucumber and carrot into thin strips, or simply julienne by hand. [I highly recommend the mandoline for this task.] Cut the red pepper into small slices as well.
Whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, herbs, and shrimp, and toss to coat.
Fill a round cake pan halfway with hot water. For each wrapper, immerse it in the hot water bath until it softens, which takes about 30 seconds. Lay it on your work surface and spoon in a couple of tablespoons of filling. Do not overstuff!
To roll up your roll, first fold the edge of the wrapper farthest from you over the filling, then fold in the edges towards the center and continue rolling the filled wrapper towards you until it’s closed and snug. You may need to change your hot water halfway through. If you’re making a number of rolls in advance, cover finished rolls with a damp towel.
To serve, slice in half with a sharp knife and serve the peanut sauce on the side.
Serves 2 as a light dinner.