Spring, Loaded

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 10.09.17 AMWhen you think of spring rolls, you probably envision the kind that are served as an appetizer at nearly every Thai restaurant in this country, a tangle of sometimes-identifiable vegetables rolled in a thin wrapper, deep-fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce.

But spring rolls go far beyond that. They’re found all across Asia, with wrappers, fillings and cooking techniques that differ from one country to the next. Fresh spring rolls, sometimes called summer rolls, are a staple in Vietnam. Most typically, they’re made of rice paper filled with rice vermicelli, cooked meat or shrimp, raw vegetables, basil, cilantro and mint. They’re wonderful, a rare combination of substance and light.

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Posted in Produce, Seafood, Thai, Vietnamese

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

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Makes: 2 to 4 servings

Time: About 30 minutes

These no-cook rolls are made with wonderfully pliable rice paper. If you have leftover shrimp (or chicken or pork), you can make them in no time flat, especially once you’ve practiced on a batch or two. Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

1 small fresh chile, minced, or 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon rice or other mild vinegar

1 tablespoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce) or soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

8 medium to large shrimp, cooked, peeled, and cut in half lengthwise, or an equivalent amount of cooked pork, beef, or chicken

1 cup grated, shredded, or julienned carrot

1 cup bean sprouts

2 scallions, cut into lengthwise slivers

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint leaves

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons roughly chopped peanuts (salted are okay)

4 sheets rice paper, 8 to 10 inches in diameter

1. Combine the first six ingredients and set aside as a dipping sauce.

2. Prepare the other ingredients and set them out on your work surface. Set out a bowl of hot water (110–120°F) and a clean kitchen towel.

3. Put a sheet of rice paper into the water for about 10 seconds, just until soft (don’t let it become too soft; it will continue to soften as you work). Lay it on the towel.

4. In the middle of the rice paper, lay 4 shrimp pieces and about a quarter each of the carrot, bean sprouts, scallions, mint, cilantro, and peanuts. Roll up the rice paper, keeping it fairly tight and folding in the ends to seal. Repeat this process until all the ingredients are used up. Serve, with the dipping sauce.

 

Posted in Recipes, Vietnamese