These light and healthy Vietnamese-influenced summer rolls are filled with cooked shrimp, rice noodles, and plenty of fresh herbs and vegetables for flavor and crunch. Once your ingredients are prepped, the rolling fun begins as sheets of rice paper are softened in water and used for the wrappers. Dipped in a spicy peanut sauce, these rolls are a great hot-weather appetizer or light lunch.
What to buy: We like to use natural peanut butter in this recipe. If you use the conventional kind, omit the sugar called for in the sauce. Look for hoisin sauce and chile-garlic paste in the Asian section of your supermarket. For the chile paste, we prefer the one made by Huy Fong Foods (with the rooster on the jar!). The rice stick noodles and rice paper wrappers can be found in most Asian grocery stores. For the wrappers, we like the Red Rose brand.
Game plan: Be sure to have all your ingredients ready and easily accessible when you start to roll, and give yourself plenty of time (and counter space) to make these. Also be sure to have a few extra rice paper wrappers on hand—it may take a few tries before you’re rolling like a pro.
Store the summer rolls in a dish or plastic container that’s roomy enough to hold them without their touching. Place a damp paper towel in the bottom of the container to keep the rolls moist. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.
You can make the peanut sauce a day ahead. Just keep it refrigerated in a covered container. Let it sit for a bit at room temperature before serving.
For the peanut sauce:
- 3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
- 4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons chile-garlic paste
- 1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
For the summer rolls:
- 24 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined
- 4 ounces dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
- 16 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers
- 1 cup mung bean sprouts (about 3 ounces)
- 32 medium fresh mint leaves (from about 1 bunch)
- 32 fresh basil or Thai basil leaves
- 16 small fresh cilantro sprigs
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, halved, seeds removed, and thinly sliced lengthwise into 32 pieces (optional)
- 1 medium English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-1/2-inch sticks
- 3 medium scallions, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2-1/2-inch pieces (white and light green parts only)
- 8 Bibb lettuce leaves, cut in half
- Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside.
For the summer rolls:
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until bright pink and just opaque, about 1 1/2 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until cool. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board.
- Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, halve each shrimp horizontally.Place in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Place all of the ingredients in separate containers and arrange them in the following order around a work surface: rice paper wrappers, shrimp, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, cilantro, serrano (if using), cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.
- Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface. Fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot tap water. Working with 1 wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. Remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel.
- Working quickly, lay 3 shrimp halves in a row, cut side up, just above the center of the wrapper, leaving about 1 inch of space on each side. Layer a scant 1/4 cup of the rice noodles over the shrimp, followed by a few bean sprouts, 2 of the mint leaves, 2 of the basil leaves, 1 sprig of cilantro, and 2 pieces of serrano, if using. Place 4 of the cucumber sticks and 2 of the scallion pieces on either side of the noodle pile. Roll one piece of lettuce into a cigar shape and place it on top of the noodle pile.
- Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in.Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top.
- Turn the roll so that the seam faces down and the row of shrimp faces up. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Leave 3/4 inch between each summer roll on the sheet so they don’t stick together, and replace the water in the pan or dish with hot tap water as needed.
- If not serving immediately, keep the summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 2 hours. Serve with the peanut sauce for dipping.
Beverage pairing: Thomas Fogarty Monterey Gewürztraminer, California. Gewürztraminers can be great food wines, as long as they’re not too heavily perfumed and floral. That’s why it can be good to go with a new-world Gewürz over an Alsatian. This wine from California’s Central Coast has beautiful flavors of ginger, white flowers, and lychee that make a nice foil for these toothsome summer rolls.