The other day I made a batch of Vietnamese-style summer rolls, aka sheer rice paper wrapped around seasonal delicacies. I used my Asian cook-book and the internet for inspiration; my version is, I believe, a good compromise, based on easily accessible ingredients.
What elevates this dish is the fresh mint and the peanut sauce. Together with the nuts, the bean pasta used in the filling constitutes a source of plant-based protein. Although the summer rolls require minimal cooking, you have to allow some time for the preparation and final assembly that could also be turned into a fun group activity.
For the summer rolls you will need:
– 1 pack of rice paper (ca: 20 pcs, 100% rice)
– 200 g bean pasta/noodles
– 200 g carrot, quartered lengthwise and cut in small pieces
– 2-3 spring onions, quartered lengthwise and finely chopped
– 1 cucumber, seeded and cut in wedges
– 10 big lettuce leaves, cut in half lengthwise
– 1 red chili, minced
– 20 coriander sprigs
– 10-15 fresh mint leaves, finely cut
– 10 fresh basil leaves, finely cut
– Hot water for soaking the rice paper
– Sesame oil
For the sauce you will need:
– 1/2 fresh red chili, minced
– 2 cm ginger, peeled and minced
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1/2 cup water
– 4 tbsp (gluten-free) tamari soy sauce
– 1 tsp sesame oil
– 1 tsp coconut oil
– lime juice (optional)
Prepare the sauce:
I used approximately 25 g of peanuts for the sauce, but I roasted a 100 g batch as I thought I might want to make more sauce soon! Adjust the amount of nuts used in the sauce to obtain the desired thickness and creaminess. Alternatively, use unsweetened peanut butter, or finely chopped salted peanuts. Proceed as follows:
- Mix the raw peanuts with one teaspoon coconut oil, a hint of salt and roast in 150 degrees until golden. Remove from the oven, transfer the nuts to another recipient and let cool.
- Process the peanuts to a coarse paste using a blender.
- Crush the chili, ginger and garlic in a mortar and pestle until soft and juicy.
- Heat up a teaspoon of sesame oil in a cooking pot. Add the spices. Fry until golden.
- Add the water and the soy sauce and let simmer softly for about five minutes.
- Add the teaspoon of coconut oil and remove from the stove.
- Mix in the peanut paste and add some drops of lime juice (optional).
Make the summer rolls:
- Place the bean pasta in a bowl and submerge in hot water for 5-10 min until al dente. Strain in a colander.
- Wash the carrots and the scallions. Quarter them lengthwise and cut finely.
- Heat up a teaspoon of sesame oil in a non stick pan on medium heat. Fry the onions for a minute or so before you add the carrots. Stir fry for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle some soy sauce over the vegetables and set aside.
- Place the ingredients on your work surface in order of appearance: bean pasta, carrot and scallion stir-fry, mint/basil/chili and lettuce leaves.
- Place hot water in a large recipient. Place a clean towel in front of you. Submerge the rice paper in the hot water for about 15 seconds until the paper becomes pliable, but not wobbly.
- Place the sheet on the towel. Place a stack of noodles in the middle of the rice paper.
- Top with the carrots & scallions.
- Add some chili, mint and basil and a sprig of coriander.
- Place a wedge of cucumber on each side of the vegetable pile.
- Finish up with a piece of lettuce rolled up like a cigar on top of the pile.
- Take the lower edge of the rice paper and fold it over the filling. Tuck it in tightly and turn it once. Fold in the side flaps towards the centre and continue rolling.
- Place the roll on a plate or a cutting board lined with parchment paper with the seam side facing down.
- Space out the rolls to avoid them sticking together.
The rolls taste nice when cool and can be refrigerated, but are better enjoyed -relatively- fresh as the rice paper might dry out a bit if stored too long; that said, I much enjoyed eating them the day after as well. The sauce should be at room temperature.
For a pescetarian version, you can use halved deveined cooked shrimps as a first layer.