I’ve been using rice paper to wrap Summer Rolls and learning I can roll almost any kind of sandwich into rice paper to avoid bread and save calories. For traditional summer rolls tho, it’s as easy as a little prep ahead of time — chopping vegetables into slivers and having them ready in stackable plastic containers so I can easily lay them out in front of me when I’m making the roll.
I start by filling the fridge with stackable plasticware containing uniform strips of the vegs that will go in the rolls. I wash, dry, slice and stack when I get home from the store.
I make my dipping sauces, see recipes below.
You can cut into matchsticks any vegetables you like
Julienne strips of carrot, cucumber, scallion, daikon radish, yellow squash, zucchini, along with sliced avocado, and leaves of Sweet or Thai/holy basil, coriander, parsley and mint. Fresh herbs give a great bite of flavor. Try them in different combinations. You’ll use only a thin stripe of veggies in each roll, much less than a full serving. Start with about two fingers worth of veggies and see how big your roll wraps up. Avocado is a great binder and source of fat if you are not using meats. Besides using different combinations of the above veggies, I like to include spicy rice vermicelli in my summer rolls.
RECIPE — SPICED RICE VERMICELLI FOR SUMMER ROLLS
Toss a handful of rice vermicelli (rice sticks) in boiling water, remove from heat and cover for about 12 minutes until tender. Drain. You’ll use the Homemade Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce Recipe below and pour over. Add 1 tsp each of: chopped scallions, cukes, carrots, cilantro, basil, mint, pickled ginger, daikon and mix together well. Drain well before including in summer roll.
TO MAKE THE SUMMER ROLL
Quickly dip your rice paper in or under running water for 1 second per side — you want it fully wet, you do NOT want it to soften. It will continue to soften as you work with it. Then place it on a damp cutting board.
Place a lettuce leaf (the hard white part of the spine removed) in the palm of your hand. Spoon the spiced vermicelli onto the leaf and, if you like, add some carrot and cucumber matchsticks, a scallion stick, 2 avocado slices.
I add a drizzle of sriracha, mayo and/or Ranch
Then roll it up, keeping it gently tight and wrapping the sides toward the middle. You’ll get better at it. Cut in half.
You can also place 2 sheets of rice paper side by side and make one long, tight roll to cut in half.
A sauce of equal parts peanut butter, hoisin and water is traditional but I like to serve with a sweet chili dipping sauce.
HOMEMADE SWEET CHILI DIPPING SAUCE:
Makes 1 Cup of Sauce
You’ll use half to spice the vermicelli
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup hot water
4 tablespoons palm sugar, more to taste
2 limes, juiced, more or less to taste
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp red chili paste, such as sambal oleck
Place all ingredients in a sauce pan or pot. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half. This should have a hot bite, the flavor will mellow a little when the rice vermicelli is added and when the roll is dipped into it.
Off to one side, make a cornstarch slurry in ROOM TEMP water:
Add 2 tablespoons cornstarch shaken into 4 tablespoons room temperature water that you are whisking around quickly. It will easily dissolve and make a thin paste. (If you pour the water into the cornstarch, it will make a big lumpy mess you can’t use.)
Add the cornstarch-water mixture to the sauce and turn the heat to low. Stir to incorporate and continue stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and taste-test. You should taste sweet first, followed by sour, then spicy then salty. If the sauce isn’t sweet enough, add a little more sugar. If not hot and spicy enough, add more chili. If it needs salt, add more fish sauce.
I also wrap traditional sandwiches in rice paper if I don’t want bread
I’ve done turkey and cheese with red onion, tomato, avocado, celery and carrot.
Fried egg and potato or ham, or scrambled eggs with cheese like a breakfast burrito.
Tuna, chicken or egg salad is excellent in them, with or without cheese. Add extra radishes and pickles.
Ground turkey as taco filling, with peppers and onions, sour cream, cilantro.
I’ve also made a peanut butter and jelly, banana wrap with dill pickle spears.
Or make a big chef salad and stuff it into a rice paper wrap for a hand held salad.