Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer Rolls: Fun with Rice Paper !

Have you ever tried to make summer rolls?  They are a healthier, non-fried version of egg rolls in a way, but really, they're an altogether different thing!  The wrapper is super thin rice paper and the fillings are generally fresh veggies like carrots, green onions, cilantro, and some light protein like chicken or shrimp.  Usually they are served with a tasty dipping sauce too.
Anyway, I've always been curious about the rice paper, ie, whether it is super difficult to work with.  Well, let me tell you, it is actually super easy!  These days, most every grocery store carries them in the Asian foods section.  Light, fresh tasting and almost no calories, these are wonderful wrappers for just about any combinations!  
Most all the recipes I saw for summer rolls encouraged wrapping the rolls very tightly.  This is a good idea because it allows you to cut the rolls in half to serve them and they look prettier if everything stays in place.  However, I wanted the rolls to be easier to eat, so I cut everything up rather small and that made them not hold together as well after cutting (see photo!).  If you leave everything in long strips, the rolls will look beautiful and they will cut very nicely.  It's up to you!  Mostly, it doesn't matter because they taste so good everyone is too busy eating them to notice this type of thing!
Summer Rolls (makes about 8)
1 pkg. Vietnamese rice paper wrappers
3 green onions, sliced in long strips or chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely grated or julienned
1/4 English cucumber, seeds removed and sliced into thin strips
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (or use sprigs)
2 small, cooked chicken breast halves, sliced into strips (I used leftover baked chicken from the night before.)

Juice of 1/2 lime
1 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. grated garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. Sriaccha sauce (I still can't spell it right!)

Get a pie plate and pour in hot water almost to the top.  Dip one rice paper into the water for 15 seconds, making sure it is submerged.  Remove and allow the water to drain off.  Put the wrapper on a dry glass plate.  Add a few pieces of onion, cucumber, cilantro and carrot in a horizontal pile a bit lower than the center line of the wrapper.  Add a few chicken strips.  Begin wrapping by drawing the lower part of the wrapper up over the filling.  Press down to compact the filling.  Fold the two ends in over the filling too, then continue wrapping up to the end.  Everything will stick fine and hold together.  Place the roll on a piece of waxed paper or parchment on a plate or sheet pan.  Repeat until all the filling is used up.
Whisk the lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, olive oil and Sriaccha sauce in a small bowl or shake in a jar.  
You can cut the rolls on the diagonal and serve them on a platter, or serve them whole.  Serve little individual bowls of the sauce or just let everyone spoon it on their rolls and they would like.
Light, refreshing, and cool-- summer's here!

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