One thing I love about making summer rolls is getting a group together for an interactive party food experience. I will set out several different options for filling in an assembly line and let everyone wrap their own while I have the sauces ready to go for dipping.
Well, the other day it was just my immediate family playing around in the kitchen after a storm knocked out our power. As you can see I did not bother much with presentation. And thankfully we had a gas stove to help us make the peanut dipping sauce, which is my dad’s favorite. But if a power outage happens to you and you crave this sauce, feel free to use store-bought to speed things up. I found all of these ingredients at our local grocery store which is nice since I do not have a nearby Asian market. Just check the ingredients to weed out anything undesirable.
I made a second sauce for more options. If you look at my pineapple lime sauce photo it is really chunky instead of smooth since we could not use the blender. Instead I used a mallet to flatten and “juice” the fresh pineapple chunks I had in a ziplock bag. You do what you gotta do! This sauce is more ideal for a power outage because it is not cooked.
We also ended up using canned chicken and tiny shrimp instead of cooking our own. It was still delicious and we had the summer rolls for lunch and then wanted them again for dinner. If you want to make up the rolls in advance, you need to individually wrap them in a damp paper towel and then in plastic wrap to keep them from drying out and refrigerate. You do not want to do this any longer than 2 hours ahead of time.
Now we are excited to have our friends over for another summer roll party in a few days to use up the leftover sauce. I forgot how much sauce my recipes make. I do not always write things down. Shame on me. But now we have an excuse to make more and try different meats, veggies and herb combinations.
Makes 9 rolls (feeds 3 people)
2 oz thin rice noodles
1 can of chicken, drained
1 can of tiny shrimp
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 large carrot
3 green onions
1/4 cup cilantro or basil or a mix
9 rice paper wrappers
Favorite Dipping Sauces (ideas – nouc cham, peanut sauce*, pineapple lime sauce*, sweet and sour sauce etc)
Soak the thin rice noodles for 7 minutes in cold water and then boil for 20 seconds, drain and rinse under cold water. Put them in a covered dish until ready to use.
Prep the cucumber and the carrot by cutting them into long thin stripes, slice the green onions and chop the cilantro and basil.
When you are ready to assemble the summer rolls, arrange the noodles, meat, veggies and herbs around a work space. Next fill a shallow dish with water and submerge 1 rice paper wrap. Wait about a minute until it is very pliable, gently shake off excess water and lay it on a plate. If necessary blot dry with a paper towel.
Lay the rice noodles across the center in a line, add the meat of your choice, finish with the veggies and sprinkle with herbs. Fold the bottom over the filling and make it snug, then fold over each side to close off the ends and roll it to close the top. You can cut in half but I always keep them whole. Repeat the process with the rest of the wrappers making sure they do not touch or they will stick together. Serve with dipping sauces in individual bowls and with lots of napkins as it can get messy-fun.
Other filling ideas – lettuce, steak, pork, mint leaves
*Sauce recipes to follow
Peanut Dipping Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (works faster than processing peanut oil and peanuts)
1/2 tbs. garlic chili pepper sauce
2 tbs. light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
1 1/2 cup low salt vegetable broth or chicken broth
3 tbs. fresh lime juice (optional)
2 tbs. hoisin sauce
2 tbs. fish sauce
8 fresh thai basil leaves, minced
In a sauce pan on medium heat melt the peanut butter and mix in the garlic chili pepper sauce and brown sugar. Once it darkens add the coconut milk, broth, lime juice (if using), hoisin, and fish sauce. Whisk until smooth and simmer until the sauce is reduced to about 1 ½ cups or 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the basil leaves. Cool and serve at room temperature in individual dipping bowls. You can make the sauce a day ahead and refrigerate in an airtight container.
Pineapple Lime Dipping Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 – 2 cups
1/4 cup canned pineapple + reserve 1/4 cup of the juice or 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, mashed with juice saved
1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
3 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. cilantro
1 tbs. minced garlic
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. garlic chili pepper sauce
Blend until smooth. Serve at room temperature in individual dipping bowls or refrigerate covered for 2-3 days.
What are your favorite fillings and sauces for summer rolls?