As summer is approaching, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will actually become warm and sunny at some point in the near future. I might have post traumatic stress disorder after months of twenty-degree weather, heavy down coats, and digging my car out of my parking space every morning. But eventually my PTSD will subside as flowers sprout, trees regain leaves, and all the good vegetables are ready at the farmers market.
As I was climbing into my car yesterday, I saw that the mint was sprouting again. We have this wild mint that grows in our parking lot (don’t worry – I wash it first). So I had to do something with this newly arrived parking lot mint! That’s when I found this recipe for summer rolls. They are light and crunchy. So light that I could probably eat 30 and not be full, but you can always serve them with a heavier, spicy peanut sauce.
I love them for lunch but they also make a good appetizer. Usually they have shrimp or tofu, but I just did pure veggies and some soba noodles. The rice paper might seem frightening (someone at work asked me if I was going to take off the wrapping before eating it, ah, those food amateurs). My husband found the rice paper at an Asian supermarket and it was labeled “spring roll wrappers.” You soak them one by one in hot water and then use them to wrap up the roll like you would a burrito. It’s not hard at all and the rice paper is more durable than you would think, I had very few tears. Give them a try! They will definitely be a few favorite in my kitchen.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls with a Spicy Peanut Sauce
For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons creamy organic or natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
- Asian Chili-garlic sauce, to taste
- 2 tablespoons of hot water
For the rolls:
- 2 oz cellophane noodles or soba noodles
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- red pepper flakes
- 1/3 of a seedless cucumber
- 1/2 of a medium carrot, peeled
- 1/2 of a red bell pepper
- ½ bag of broccoli slaw
- 2-3 chives, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce juice from 1/2 lime
- juice of ½ lime
- 16-24 fresh mint leaves
- rice paper wrappers
- Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
- Cook the cellophane or soba noodles according to the package directions. The directions on my package were in Japanese, you might have better luck. But we heated a medium sauce pan full of water until boiling, added the noodles, and carefully watched them. After about 2-3 minutes they were fully cooked.
- Drain the noodles, put them in a bowl, and toss with the sesame oil and a dash of red pepper flakes.
- Julienne by hand by use a mandoline to slice the cucumber, carrot, and red pepper. I added some broccoli slaw from the bag which reduced the amount of chopping.
- Whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the vegetables and the chives, and toss to coat.
- Fill a round cake pan halfway with hot water. For each wrapper, immerse it in the hot water bath until it softens, which takes about 30 seconds.
- Lay it on your work surface and fill it first with about 1-2 tablespoons of noodles. Then, add a few tablespoons of the veggie mixture. Add a 2-3 mint leaves, depending on how large they are.
- To roll up your roll, first fold the edge of the wrapper farthest from you over the filling, then fold in the edges towards the center and continue rolling the filled wrapper towards you until it’s closed and snug. If you want to be especially decorative, place the mint leaves closer to the front edge of the wrapper, so that they are rolled into the last layer and show through the top of the finished roll. Serve with the peanut sauce or with the same sauce the vegetables were tossed with. Enjoy!