Simpler Summer Rolls
Published by William Morrow
Everyone’s falling for the beautiful Southeast Asian summer rolls (formerly known as spring rolls) that are offered in many restaurants. An expertly made one is a work of art—a perfect balance of herbs, vegetables, cellophane noodles, and often shrimp or pork, rolled tightly in a translucent rice wrapper. Believe me, making them at home takes practice and patience. I wanted to create a simpler version so I took what I like best about them—the fragrant herbs—and tossed them with shredded iceberg, which has just the right crunch and weight to upholster them. They’re rolled up with peanuts as if they were crepes with open ends and served with nuoc cham, a Vietnamese dipping sauce.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
Make Ahead RecipeYes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cocktail Party
Recipe Coursecold appetizer
Taste and Textureherby, hot & spicy, light
- ¼ cup Thai fish sauce
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 fresh Thai bird chiles, thinly sliced, or other small hot chile
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
- ½ cup coarsely chopped spearmint or small leaves
- ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- ½ cup coarsely chopped sweet or Thai basil, or small whole leaves
- 1½ cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- Twelve 6-inch rice paper rounds
- ½ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Stir the ingredients for the dipping sauce together in a small bowl.
Toss the herbs and lettuce in a bowl until evenly combined. Fill a shallow bowl with warm tap water and drop in 4 of the rice papers, one at a time. In about 3 minutes they should be very soft and pliable. Lift them from the water and lay them out on a clean kitchen towel. Divide one third of the herb mixture among the 4 papers, arranging each portion in a strip lengthwise across the center. Sprinkle with peanuts. Roll each one up into a snug cylinder and place it on a platter. Repeat the soaking, filling, and rolling in two more batches. Serve the rolls right away with the dipping sauce or cover them with a damp paper towel and then plastic wrap; they’ll hold for about 2 hours in a cool spot (not the refrigerator).
2005 Jerry Traunfeld