These Vietnamese/Thai-inspired summer rolls are much more than just a raw greaseless spring roll – fresh, healthy, crunchy, totally delicious and perfect for summer. There are a lot of different recipes for these, and this one is my own invention, based a little bit on a Nigella Recipe, and a little bit on a Nigel Slater recipe.
Rice noodles, coriander and mint form the basis of the summer roll, and on top of that I chose to just use simple green and white things, but you can use whatever you want really. Other commonly used fillings include little lettuce leaves, shredded carrot, radish, or cooked prawns (so I hear). As the summer rolls are transparent, all I would advise is to make sure that you choose fillings that are pretty.
I bought the rice paper wrappers in Wing Yip on my epic trip with the wonderful Debbie and had been looking forward to making summer rolls ever since. They were so much fun to make – fiddly, but very satisfying.
Quantities are going to be a little hard for me to describe – it totally depends on how many you want to make. I made 14 summer rolls with this amount of filling, with enough veggies and dipping sauce left over to make a bowlful of salsa.
Rice paper wrappers – you get millions of them in a packet.
Thin rice noodles (vermicelli). We used about half a big packet. Soak them in hot water until soft, refresh under cold water and drain. They will stick together, but it doesn’t matter.
Cucumber – take out the seeds and slice into thin batons.
Beansprouts – pick off any icky stringy tail bits.
4 spring onions, sliced into strips.
Half a bunch fresh coriander leaves – wash and dry thoroughly, and pick leaves from the stems.
Fresh mint leaves – wash and dry thoroughly, and pick leaves from the stems. We used 3 mint leaves per roll, so I can categorically say that we used 42 little leaves!
For the dipping sauce:
1 small can pineapple pieces, drained – I’m sure it would be better to use fresh pineapple, but I didn’t have any at the time.
1 red chilli – remove the seeds if you want and dice finely.
The juice of 1 lime.
2 tbsp fish sauce. (For vegans and vegetarians, use extra rice vinegar and 1tbsp miso)
½ tbsp rice vinegar.
½ tbsp sesame oil.
Freshly ground black pepper.
Make the dipping sauce first so that it has time to settle and mellow.
Put the pineapple in a bowl with the lime juice and use a hand/immersion blender to blend about half of it. You want to end up with some liquid, some lumps of fruit, and some goop that is halfway between the two. Then add the rest of the ingredients, stir well and set aside until ready to use. Don’t be scared of the quantities of fish sauce – it is a little stinky straight out of the bottle, but it really is perfect for this, and other Southeast Asian-style salad-y things. If like me you keep kosher, most brands of fish sauce are made exclusively from anchovies - just check the label.
Make sure that all of your vegetables, herbs and noodles are completely dry – the rice wrapper will disintegrate if it is soggy on the inside.
To make these summer rolls you will need to work quite quickly, so it is best to have a really well organised workspace. Arrange your workspace with your prepared veggies, a bowl wider than the wrappers full of hot (not boiling) water, a plate for rolling, and a plate to put the rolls on.
Soak the wrappers in the hot water for about 3 seconds, place on your rolling plate and start building. I started mine with 3 mint leaves in a line (facing outwards to be prettier), a clump of noodles and then a few shards of the other green and white things. Wrap carefully into a little parcel and carry on! The wrappers get very sticky and fiddly to use, but I promise, you will get the hang of it very fast.