Vietnamese Summer Rolls and Spicy Peanut Sauce

It’s a hot one today folks! A right scorcher. One of those days where the idea of turning on the stove just makes you want to weep.

We also don’t have air conditioning, which might be a big factor in my case…

So, it’s a good thing I had summer rolls scheduled today. They’re fresh and cool and there’s little to no cooking involved. Only the peanut sauce needs to be cooked, and the shrimp if you opt for raw shrimp like I did. I prefer cooking the shrimp myself, because it has a fresher flavour than precooked shrimp.
The lovely thing about these summer rolls is that they’re easy to adjust. You can swap up the fillings any way you like. You just need rice paper wrappers and lots of fresh veggies to fill them with. If I were to change anything about these rolls I would add in a little more colour. When I got all of my fixin’s spread out on the table before I started I had sliced cucumbers, lettuce, chopped mint, chopped basil, shrimp, and vermicelli noodles. Which is a whole lot of…green and white. Some matchstick carrots would have added some lovely colour and crunch. So, learn from my mistakes, friends. Branch out and have fun with your filling.

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Prep: 30-45 min Serves: 8-10

  •  1 package rice paper
  • 4 cups cooked rice noodles (either somen noodles, vermicelli noodles or glass noodles)
  • 4 leaves of  leaf lettuce cut crosswise into long strips
  • 1/2 cucumber chopped into matchsticks
  • 2 cups carrots chopped into matchsticks
  • leaves from 2 bunches fresh mint and/or fresh basil
  • leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 lb cooked medium shrimp cooked, peeled, de-veined and halved lengthwise
  • * 1/2 lb ground or shredded lean pork or chicken
You will want to set up a work station for yourself by arranging all your ingredients within easy reach for yourself. Set up a large cutting board in front of you for wrapping the spring rolls. Next to the cutting board, place a large pie plate or some other kind of shallow dish filled with very warm water.
Slide 1 sheet of rice paper into the warm water and gently submerge it for 15 seconds or until soft. The rice paper is very delicate when its wet so remove it carefully and lay it flat on the cutting board.
Lay out your ingredients in horizontal lines on the lower third of the rice paper and work away from yourself. Start with a small tangle of noodles, a row of lettuce, a few sticks of carrots and cucumber, a row of mint/basil leaves, a row of cilantro, and a row of chicken or pork. Lift the wrapper edge nearest you up and over the filling, tucking it under the ingredients and forming it into a cylinder shape. Once the filling is enclosed with one turn, fold in the right and left sides tightly. Make another turn and place 2-4 shrimp halves on the rice paper just above the cylinder. Roll it up and press the seam closed. Set the roll aside to dry with the seam side down. Repeat!
You can serve the rolls whole, or slice off the ends and cut each roll in half, with some spicy peanut sauce to dip in.
Speaking of which….
This peanut sauce is a recipe I got from my mother in law. She made it, with a big batch of summer rolls, when Truman and I got married. It’s spectacular. Its so good, I could eat it on its own. You probably shouldn’t though.  Think of all the calories!!

Spicy Peanut Sauce:

Prep: 15 min

  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs Red Curry Paste
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs Lime juice
  • 1 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Warm coconut milk in sauce pan over medium heat and stir until it comes to a gentle boil. Add the curry paste and stir until its dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients. Cool to room temperature and serve.
This peanut sauce is good for more than just a dipping sauce. I’ve made an amazing meal with chicken, cilantro lime rice, and this peanut sauce that is to die for. More on that in later months.
If you’re looking for something fresh and light for dinner to beat the heat, I hope this has peaked your interest!