The most important piece of cooking advice I have for my niece Emmi: master a few simple techniques for adaptable dishes you can serve up dozens of different ways. I’ve already showed how this suggestion works with baked potatoes, flank steak, pork tenderloin and roasted chicken. Now, I’m going to show you how versatile Vietnamese-inspired summer rolls can be. While spring rolls and egg rolls are usually fried, summer rolls are fresh, light and ready in minutes. And the spicy peanut sauce I serve them with is to die for.
The one ingredient you might be unfamiliar with? The rice paper sheets you roll your ingredients in. They’re available in the most large grocery stores, usually in the Asian food section though I have seen them in the produce section with the wonton skins.
Your filling options are endless. Here are a few of the foods I like to mix-and-match for either a healthy snack or a satisfying meal.
Noodles (cooked and cooled)
Leftover spaghetti noodles
Zoodles (zucchini noodles)
Purple or green cabbage
Proteins (cooked and cooled)
IMPORTANT: Have all your ingredients assembled and ready to roll before you start. You want to work quickly once the rice paper is wet. The wrapper gets softer as you work with it so don’t leave it in the water too long or it gets Mod Podgey.
AlSO IMPORTANT: Read all steps first. Working with rice paper is tricky at first but you’ll quickly get the hang of it. Think of it like making pancakes. You know how the first couple are duds? Same deal.
Ready to roll?
- Fill a shallow dish that’s large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot (not boiling) water. Working with one wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper, flip it over, submerge and remove.
- Working quickly, stack your ingredients on the wet wrapper, careful not to over-fill it. No, really, don’t over-fill.
- Folding from the bottom, begin rolling the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Roll all the way up and set aside.
- Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Leave space between each summer roll so they don’t stick together. Replace the water in your dish with more hot water as needed.
- If you’re not eating immediately, keep your summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
- Serve with Spicy Peanut Sauce for dipping. Recipe below.
Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Juice of ½ a fresh lime
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sambal oelek (fresh chili paste)
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
Mix all ingredients till smooth. I do this by hand, but it’s still a little chunky which I don’t mind. Use an immersion blender if you want it Instagram-worthy.
Summer rolls are fun to make at parties – just put out a lot of fillings and let people create their own. Oh, and that Spicy Peanut Sauce is delicious on cold noodles, with chicken satay or as a salad dressing. Yes, I’ve been known to eat it with a spoon.
If you try these super easy summer rolls, let me know what you put in them.
And what you think.
And if you’re now addicted to the Spicy Peanut Sauce. There’s a support group.