roll call October 23, 2009

SummerRolls`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:

  • You want the wrapper pliable but not wimpy. Soak them in hot water just long enough to be able to roll them without being too thin. For me, that was about 10 seconds per wrapper.
  • Contain your ingredients – this is what I was doing wrong. Too much stuff spread out all over the wrapper. Consolidate where your fillings are and place them towards one side of the wrapper.
  • Don't get more than one wrapper wet at a time. They take so little time to soak that it makes no sense to have them all wet at once. Soak them as you go and you won't have a glopped together mess.

SummerRolls2 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

  • 16 round rice paper wrappers – these were available in my local grocery store
  • 1 large red bell pepper – julienned
  • 1 large mango – peeled,flesh cut around the seed and cut into strips
  • 1 large red onion – cut in half then julienned
  • 2 ripe avocado – pitted then cut into strips
  • 1 small lime
  • 1 packed cup pea shoots. You can also use sunflower sprouts, shredded romaine or any other green you choose. 
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

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!


Chole Ray Oct 23, 2009 07:10 am

All of that delicious looking food is making me very hungry. I am definitely going to be making this.

Kathianne Williams Oct 23, 2009 07:10 pm

Hi there! Patti, over at Anatomy of a Dinner Party told me about you and your awesome blog. I just love this post about summer rolls. I’ve tried them in the past and they were ok, but I can where I made some mistakes with the wrappers. Thanks for this post!

The Teacher Cooks Oct 24, 2009 01:10 pm

You have a very interesting blog. I love the photo of the spring roll. It is excellent. I am a teacher in the Atlanta area. Saw that you mentioned the Abattoir. I love the restaurant.

tami Oct 25, 2009 10:10 am

Nice to “meet” you – saw Patti’s post about your lunch together. Thanks for coming by the blog and for saying hi! :)
– tami