Hot and heavy may be great for kissing—but not so much for a summer meal. Opt for cool and light instead. Vietnamese shrimp summer rolls consist of fresh ingredients wrapped in rice paper and served at room temperature or cooled; they’re not deep fried or otherwise cooked on the outside like egg rolls or spring rolls, making them a healthy alternative.
Summer rolls may look intimidating to make but they’re easy and even (I promise!) fun. My kids like rolling their own—once I have the ingredients laid out, of course. My daughter opts for noodles, carrots and avocado while my son stuffs his with as many shrimp as will fit and a little cucumber crunch. Bonus: they are so much more likely to eat a meal they’ve made for themselves.
These summer rolls use the bounty of herbs from your garden (or farmer’s market, if you have a black thumb like me) as well as fresh veggies and protein-boosting shrimp. Dip them in peanut sauce and you’ve got an appetizer or a meal that will wow company and please kids. Plus you can make them ahead, which means you don’t have to put down your mojito to heat up the grill or stove.
Fresh Vietnamese Shrimp Summer Rolls with Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce
serves 16 as appetizer, 4 as meal
For summer rolls:
- 1/2 pound vermicelli/thin rice noodles
- 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil (for sautéing, don’t need if grilling)
- 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined*
- 2 cups carrots, shredded
- 6 scallions, finely chopped
- 1-2 Kirby cucumbers, peeled and julienned
- 2 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced thin
- 16 cilantro sprigs
- 24 mint leaves
- 1 lime, halved
- 8 sheets rice paper (8-inches each) for summer rolls**
For peanut sauce:
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon water
1. Heat up large pot of water to boiling. Add rice noodles then stir to separate. Cook 4-6 minutes to al dente (don’t overcook or noodles will get mushy). Drain immediately and rinse under cool water then drain again. Leave noodles in the colander until ready to use.
2. Heat peanut or canola oil in pan and sauté shrimp for 1-2 minutes per side. Alternatively, cook shrimp on heated grill until cooked through. Cool.
3. When ready to make rolls, have handy your prepared noodles, shrimp, carrots, scallions, cucumbers, avocado, cilantro, mint and lime.
4. Lay out a clean dish towel on the kitchen counter and partially fill a lasagna pan with hot water nearby. Soak one rice paper for 10-20 seconds in pan until soft, sticky and pliable. Pull from water carefully holding two corners and lie flat on towel.
5. Line rice paper at one end with chosen ingredients and add a squeeze of limejuice. Roll to enclose, making sure to tuck in sides as you go. Line finished rolls on a plate for immediate enjoyment or wrap in parchment (will still be sticky on the outside) and place in refrigerator for later use.
6. Add all peanut sauce ingredients to a microwave-safe bowl. Stir to combine. Cook in microwave for 30 seconds then stir sauce. Cook in 10-second increments as needed to warm and combine.
7. Serve summer rolls alongside peanut dipping sauce. Sit back and await compliments.
*Option: Can substitute chicken, pork or tofu for non-shrimp lovers.
**Rice paper can be found in your local Asian market.
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