Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

I am so excited to share this blog post with you!  I am typically excited about any blog post, but especially this one.  The recipe I am sharing today is one that I received from my dear co-resident, Sara.  Since having moved to Naples, I have been exposed to so many new people with different backgrounds than myself.  Thankfully, we all share the love of good food, so I have been collecting recipes along the way that I am adding to my Naples cookbook.  That's right!  I am compiling recipes that I receive from the amazing people I have met here, so anytime I make the recipe, I am reminded of them.  So sweet, right?  And, of course, I will be sharing the book with these lovely ladies you see in the picture below (plus Lory who is behind the camera).

When we first started residency in Naples, we decided to have a weekly girls night.  With all of us moving from various parts of the country, we knew next to no one here.  We quickly established what we call "Our Naples Family."  I feel blessed beyond measure to have such sweet, smart and beautiful girlfriends to spend these two years with.  

Like I said, we have a weekly girls night that started as The Bachelor Night, but has now progressed to themes such as, but not limited to: breakfast for dinner, movie nights, and recipe sharing.  Tonight's girls night was learning how to make Summer Rolls.  The recipe makes quite a few rolls, so bring a crowd.  Besides, eating is always more fun when you are sharing it with a group!

Vietnamese Summer Rolls 

We had quite a spread!  In addition to the summer rolls, we also made Mandu (Korean pot sticker) which were to die for.  I can't take credit for that recipe, but I would highly recommend making them.  They were some of the best dumplings I have ever had!  Click here to find the link to the blog we got the Mandu recipe from.

Back to the summer rolls!  These guys are super easy to make.  We used rice paper wrappers, vermicelli rice noodles, shredded carrots, shredded cucumber, bean sprouts, lettuce, shrimp, cilantro, mint, and basil.
The rice paper comes in thin disks at your local Asian market, but everything else can be found in most standard grocery stores.

We started by heating water in a kettle until it is warm.  We used a shallow plate to hold the warm water so we could dampen the rice paper disk to make it more flexible.  The first few times I tried to make my roll, I made the mistake of getting the rice paper too wet, and it became sticky and difficult to handle.  I placed the disk in the water for 2 seconds, flipped it for 2 more seconds, and took it out of  the water.  The disk will become more flexible as you go.

Take your rice paper out of the water and place it on your work station such as a plate or cutting board.  I start with laying a few leaves of cilantro in a line. 

Next for the shrimp!  What we did was boil the shrimp in water until they a fully cooked (about 4 minutes) and blanch (dunk) them in cold water to keep them from over-cooking.  After the shrimp have cooled, cut the shrimp in half length-wise.  This step was completed during our prep time, so now we can assemble everything.  Oh! I almost forgot!  I like putting the pink side of the shrimp towards the rice paper.  Once it is rolled, you can see the shrimp from the outside so everybody knows it is a shrimp summer roll.

Following the shrimp, I added a leaf of romaine lettuce, shredded carrots, thinly sliced cucumber, and fresh bean sprouts.  One thing I had a problem with in the past is over-filling the roll.  I had to keep reminding myself that I was not making a burrito.  You just need a little bit of each ingredient!

On top of my veggies, I arranged some fresh basil and mint leaves.  In the past when I have made summer rolls, the thought never occurred to me to add mint and basil.  Let me tell you, I will never not add them from here on out!  They add a fresh, aromatic flavor that is unmistakable in these rolls. 

And lastly, I grab a small handful of rice noodles.  The rice noodles give the rolls some substance to them, cause Hello, we can't just eat vegetables and two shrimp!  At least that's not how I roll...yea... pun intended.  I could not help myself.

Alright! so we have made it to the rolling part.  I fold the left and right side of the wrapper over so nothing falls out the ends.  Next, I grab the end farthest from me and bring it towards me, covering the filling.  Lastly, I roll everything towards me until the roll is sealed.

Eek!  That's all it takes!  Look how gorgeous the cilantro and the shrimp look.  There is no mistaking what is going on in that roll.  Even little Jaxie wants some!

Every summer roll needs a good dipping sauce, and this one could not be easier.  We used 2 parts Hoisin (Asian barbecue sauce found on the International aisle of your grocery store) and 1 part creamy peanut butter.  We, then, added a little warm water to thin the sauce.  Do so to your liking!

Dip and enjoy!!!

And, seriously, don't forget about the Mandu!  Look how amazing they turned out!  This was one of the best girls nights we have had.  It was like craft night, but you got to eat your craft afterwards.  Does it get any better than that??  Grab your best girls (or guys) and get to cookin'!


Summer Roll:
Rice paper disks
Large shrimp, cut in half longways
Romaine lettuce leaves with rib removed
Shredded carrots
Shredded cucumber (seeds removed)
Bean sprouts
Vermicelli rice noodles

Peanut dipping sauce:
1/2 cup of Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter
1-2 TBSP of warm water


Warm some water and make the peanut dipping sauce by adding the Hoisin sauce and peanut butter to a small mixing bowl.  Add the warm water until it has reached the consistency you want and the mixture is thoroughly combined.

  Add warm water to a medium sized mixing bowl and place your Vermicelli noodles in the water.  Drain and remove the noodles to a plate once they have softened.  Arrange all of your vegetables, herbs, noodles, and shrimp assembly line style.  

Pour some of the warm water in a shallow, large diameter bowl or plate.  Dampen your rice paper wrapper on each side.  Place the wrapper on a work station (plate, cutting board, etc).  Lay a few leaves of cilantro in a horizontal line in the center of your wrapper.  Place the pink side of the shrimp over the cilantro leaves.  Put a leaf of Romaine lettuce over your shrimp and add the shredded carrots, cucumber and bean sprouts.  Lay a few leaves each of mint and basil over the veggies.  Top everything off with a small handful of Vermicelli noodles.  

Fold the right and left edges of your wrapper over the sides of the veggies.  Take the top edge and fold it over the veggies towards you.  Gradually roll the wrap towards you and allow the bottom edge of the wrapper to seal your summer roll.  Dip the summer roll in the peanut dipping sauce and eat to your heart's content!