I really hadn't intended on blogging about summer rolls in…late October. I have these awesome pumpkin cheesecake bars I've made…and an incredible chocolate cookbook I'm dying to cook from. Lots of deep, rich fall flavors and heavier dishes.
Yeah…about that. It's in the upper 70's here in Atlanta. Monsoon season has stopped for the time being and the weather has been brilliant this week. No need for the heat to be on. I've been in flip flops again this week. Something about those winter recipes just wasn't jiving with me.
As it happened, our friends Susy and Martin wanted to have an Asian-themed Top Chef Wednesday dinner. I also just received Jaden's cookbook in the mail so it may be that this cuisine is on the brain. In any case, the craving set in for a light, flavorful starter. Some crunch and zing. Summer rolls, it was.
Now I've made summer rolls in the past. I remember that the first few were a little dicey in the tightness department and didn't really pass muster. This time around…was no different. The ones in this photo were the 2nd or so ones I'd made – almost there but not quite. I found it more difficult this time when using loose vegetation as a filling. I went looking on-line for a video telling me what I was doing wrong. This dude helped me out a lot. The remainder of my rolls were tight with their ends properly tucked in.
The key points to remember are:
That's it, really. My rolls were filled with all the crunchy fresh veggies I had on had, a little tart fruit and a mess of fresh herbs. I didn't want the rolls to be too filling so this is a version without the cellophane noodles in the inside. You can interchange the fillings however you'd like. Put thai or regular basil in there for your herbs -just don't put herbs with woody stems in there, ya know? Substitute pineapple for the mango. Throw some jalapeno or thai red chilies in there if you dare. This is a great, versatile recipe that pleased a group of meat-eaters and would thrill your vegetarian friends.
Veggie Crunch Summer Rolls – makes 16 rolls
– Your ingredients: I found it most beneficial to have them all cut, washed, dried and all at arms length to put right into the rolls. I took the lime, cut it in half, and squeezed the juice onto the mango and avocado to prevent browning while making my rolls. Plus, the acid works with the flavor profile here.
– To assemble: Have ample counter space or large cutting board out to do your wrapping on. Also, have an empty plate or tray nearby with some wet paper towel to cover them as you go so they don't dry out!
– Take a shallow dish (I used a large pie pan and it was the perfect size) and fill with about 3 cups of HOT water. Immerse one wrapper at a time in the water until pliable – about 10 seconds. Place on flat surface. Take small handful of pea shoots as your base and place in top third of wrapper. Place 1-2 julienned pieces of red pepper, avocado, mango and red onion and place on shoots. Top with mint and cilantro. There is no set proportion of ingredients – you'll have to eyeball it to evenly fill 16. Err on the side of LESS filling because an over-stuffed roll will tear before you get it together.
– Take your left and right sides of your wrapped and fold them over so they overlap the ingredients – this will make your tucked-in ends. Roll the top of the wrapper over on top of ingredients and begin to roll towards you. Tuck the top edge under your ingredients and hold it together as you roll, keeping it tight. The wrapper is tacky enough that it will seal itself as you finish rolling.
– Place them on the aforementioned plate and cover with wet paper towels. Repeat this process for the other 15 wrappers. These rolls can be made about 4 hours in advance without worrying about browning or wilting of the ingredients. I stored them with wet paper towel over the plate and wrapped that with plastic wrap or put in Ziploc bag.
– What should I dip them in? Since it was an impromptu recipe, I used a really good quality pre-made dipping sauce – a Sweet Chili Sauce – from a company called So!Go. It's a bit pricey but that's what you get for not being prepared. I have also used Tyler Florence's dipping sauce recipe in the past, which is easy to whip together and waaaaaay cheaper. You can find that recipe here. Enjoy!