While it seems like the rest of the country is welcoming cooler temperatures, packing away shorts, apple picking, making pumpkin pie and saying hello to fall, we here in San Francisco are finally experiencing our Indian summer. It was a whopping 88 degrees in the city yesterday! For some reason, this weird little city stays foggy, windy and cold eleven months of the year, but come October, the heat turns on and it’s finally time to break out our skirts, flip flops and tanks! It’s a nice reminder that we DO live in the golden state and we DO get some of that famed California sunshine, albeit for a short few weeks.
When temperatures rise, the last thing I want to be doing is slave away in a hot kitchen. One of my favorite summer meals to make is Vietnamese Summer Rolls. My old roommate P introduced me to these and its become one of my favorite hot weather foods. Sometimes called spring rolls, fresh rolls or salad rolls, summer rolls are a refreshing meal to eat when your body just wants something light, cool and fresh. Unlike egg rolls, these rolls are not fried. They are are served at room temperature and require very little cooking. They are extremely healthy, too! It’s basically like eating salad in a burrito form!
Vietnamese summer rolls usually have vermicelli noodles, prawn or pork, herbs and vegetables in it, all wrapped with rice paper (which you can buy at Asian grocery stores). The beauty of summer rolls is that you can pretty much anything inside them! It’s a great way to use up leftover veggies. For these particular summer rolls, I used these ingredients:
The vermicelli noodles take about 30 seconds to cook in boiling water and you can even use pre-cooked shrimp to make the prep work even easier. The most time consuming part is the cutting of all the vegetables and herbs. For these summer rolls, these are the vegetables that I added in:
You can pretty much add any vegetable that you like inside. I’ve also in the past added bean sprouts, cilantro, green onion and jicama. Anything goes!!
HOW TO WRAP YOUR SUMMER ROLLS
1. Submerge one sheet of the rice paper wrapper in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water for about 5 seconds. The rice paper will instantly soften up:
2. Quickly remove the rice paper out of the water, it will continue to soften after you pull it out of the water so don’t worry if you think it’s hasn’t been submerged long enough. You don’t want it to be too soft or it will tear:
3. On a plate, cutting board or flat surface, gently lay out your rice paper wrapper as flat as you can and then lay all your ingredients on top. I usually put the lettuce and vermicelli on the bottom to form a nice little “base” to pile the other ingredients on top. It helps to shape the filling in a long rectangular shape so that its easier to wrap:
5. Now comes the tricky part. You want to wrap the roll as tightly as you can, so that it doesn’t come apart when you handle it. But you can’t wrap too tightly or you may tear the wrapper. I’m not particularly good at this step, which is why my summer rolls always come out looking wonky and deformed, so I kind of hold my breath and roll as fast as I can. Anywhere close to a burrito shape is a success!
6. Continue wrapping until you have used up all your ingredients. Eat these rolls right away. If you refrigerate the rolls, the wrappers get a little hard so you want to eat these within the next hour or so.
You can serve these rolls with hoisen sauce, soy sauce, peanut sauce or fish sauce. My roommate P taught me how to make a simple dipping sauce with soy sauce, lime juice and sugar and that has become my preferred way of eating these:
We’ve been known to throw a few summer roll making parties, too, with our friends. It’s fun to get everyone together and wrap and eat these simultaneously!