Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce




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Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce ~ these traditional rice paper wrapped rolls are filled with crunchy veggies for a refreshing appetizer or light meal.

I first had these on a sweltering summer day in Los Angeles, in a tiny Vietnamese restaurant years ago.  The place was packed, not air conditioned, and the service was especially slow.  When these finally arrived at the table it was like a sudden gust of cool air.  They are unlike any other food, really.  It’s been on my mind to make them for a long time, but I was having trouble finding the wrappers.  I thought I was looking for a fresh product, but they’re actually sold in dry form, in the Asian section of your store. They’re made from rice flour, aren’t they pretty?  They look like origami paper.

If you can find a package of spring roll wrappers you can probably make these Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce with what you already have in the fridge.  Just finely julienne lots of fresh veggies and roll away.  These delicate rolls are raw, vegan, and so light they’re almost ethereal.  When it’s too hot to turn on the oven, and you’re hungry, these are your guys.

You just soak them for a few seconds in water to soften, and then wrap them around whatever filling you choose.  I love how the inside shows through the translucent skin.  Then when you cut them, either straight across or on a diagonal, you get a beautiful surprise mosaic of vegetables.

There are a million dipping sauces that go great with these, from a simple vinegar, soy sauce and ginger blend to more complex  flavors.  The rolls themselves are bland,  in a good way, with the focus being on the fresh crisp veggies and cool, chewy, slightly gelatinous wrapper, so the sauce is an important part of the summer roll equation.  For these I chose to make a spicy peanut sauce, and my Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce.

The Vietnamese name for these rolls is Goi Cuon, or literally, salad roll.  And that’s what they are, a finely julienned salad in a handy wrapper.  All you need to do to get started is slice up a bunch of different vegetables into about 6 inch slivers.  Gather some leafy greens to form the outer layer.  I used radicchio and watercress, but you can use anything you like.  They’re best made right before you eat them, or at least the same day.  But you can definitely slice up all the ingredients ahead.



This is more of a method than a recipe.  The filling can be any vegetable you like, but it works best if they are cut in thin strips.  In fact, the vegetables should be cut in as fine a julienne as you and your sharpest knife can muster…that will result in the best final texture.  You don’t want big clunky bits in your summer rolls.

These Summer Rolls are so good, I’m glad I finally got around to making them.  We’ve got lots of hot weather ahead, so I’m sure I’ll use up all 3 packs of wrappers I stockpiled.  In fact don’t be shocked if you see another summer roll post from me real soon, I want to fine tune my julienne technique, and play around with some other veggies, and maybe shrimp.

Have you made these?  What’s your favorite way to fill them?  I need ideas for my next summer roll session, I’m already craving more!

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
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Ingredients

  • 1 package spring roll wrappers
  • radicchio leaves or any leafy green
  • watercress
  • julienned carrots
  • julienned English cucumber (skin on)
  • julienned scallions
  • julienned radishes
  • mint leaves
  • cilantro leaves
    Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
  • 6 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp rice vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
  • 4 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • t tsp red chili flakes
  • chopped roasted peanuts for garnish

Instructions

  1. Gather all your clean, trimmed veggies together on a work surface.
  2. Put a little warm water in the bottom of a flat dish, a pie plate works well. Working with one rice paper wrapper at a time, submerge and soak it in the water for just about 10 seconds, to soften it. Don't soak it too long or it will become fragile.
  3. Place your wrapper flat down and layer radicchio leaves down on it, leaving at least an inch all around.
  4. Then lay your other veggies on top, in any configuration you want. Play around with them; you can make them thick, or thin, and depending on how you layer your vegetables, the cut rolls will have a different look.
  5. Fold the top edge of the wrapper over, then starting from one side, fold the whole circle over, like a taco or an omelet.
  6. Fold the bottom up, and continue to wrap the roll, using a firm pressure to get a nice, tight roll. It will probably take you a roll or two to get the hang of it. My first attempts were too loose.
  7. Cut the roll in two, either on a diagonal, or straight across. Set on a plate, but don't let the rolls touch or the rice wrappers can stick together.
  8. Serve with dipping sauce.
  9. To store, cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap.
  10. To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a measuring cup until it becomes a smooth sauce. Taste and adjust as you see fit.

notes:

  • For the sauce the exact amounts are flexible, be sure to taste as you go!  If you want a thinner sauce, you can add some water.  Double the recipe for more sauce.  Leave out the chili if you don’t like spicy…you know the drill.

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21 Comments

  • Reply
    Working London Mummy Working London Mummy
    June 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    love these, and such a lovely dish that is light yet does not make you feel like you are being healthy.

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    June 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    love making summer rolls and peanut sauce..there is no wrong way to make them or the sauce…a little of this, a little of that. Now if those wrappers weren’t so darn slippery :)

  • Reply
    Jacquelyn Grandy
    June 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Hi Sue. These rolls look so refreshing and what a great and fun lunch idea. I’m back east and eating so much meat that I can’t wait to get home and have some vegeterian fare. It’s so much easier to find amazing salads and vegetarian options in California. The produce is so amazing that I miss it already!

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Forgot to add that, ironically, the addition of slivered jalepeno pepper heat helps to cool me off!

  • Reply
    Kate
    June 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    Hot weather makes me not want to eat let alone cook, but these are PerFect! I think shredding the sturdier carrots and radishes help them roll easier and tighter… and I love your omission of the rice noodles! Lighter and less work… brilliant!

  • Reply
    Magnolia Verandah
    June 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

    These are one of my favourite nibbles. I love them when they are at catered functions I make a “B” line for them. The mint and coriander are just my favourite flavours. I have found them a bit fiddly to make – I think I need more practice! Just lovely!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      I was wondering about serving them as appetizers at a gathering, I think they would have to be wrapped extra securely. We had them for dinner and by the last couple of bites each one was coming apart a bit.

  • Reply
    Linda A. Thompson Ditch
    June 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve always wanted to make these. Thanks to your post, you’ve made it easier for the rest of us!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      It wasn’t hard at all, but I think the main lesson I learned is that they need the first layer of lettuce to give the roll support, and to help it roll easier. I tried a few without it and they were flimsy and hard to wrap. Good luck making them Linda.

  • Reply
    Rose
    June 20, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Oh, I am definitely going to try these! They look so yummy!

  • Reply
    Eileen
    June 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Summer rolls–I love them! I do think the radicchio makes them extra gorgeous too. I usually make summer rolls with some rice vermicelli in them–but now I’m thinking I should give an all-veg roll a try!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 20, 2012 at 12:45 am

      Most of the recipes I looked at called for rice noodles, and I even bought a package, but didn’t end up using them. I guess that just means I’ll have to make another batch :)

  • Reply
    curiouscuisiniere
    June 20, 2012 at 3:55 am

    These look fantastic! So light and fresh, and I love spicy peanut sauce! Definitely a pin!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      They really are a visual food, I love that, and the contrast between the ultra light rolls and the rich spicy sauce is great, hope you make them!

  • Reply
    Heather @girlichef.com
    June 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    OH, I’ve been in the mood for Spring…or Summer…Rolls lately. Your are just gorgeous. I love the way the cabbage on the outside shows through the wrappers. So tempting! And the sauce…yes please!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 20, 2012 at 12:42 am

      I want to make these with all kinds of other ingredients so I can see how they look when different stuff shows through…does that make me a little nuts? Probably.

  • Reply
    Gerlinde in Dallas
    June 19, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Yes, they are the perfect food for hot summer days! I just wish the heat didn’t make me so darn lazy. I’ve had a package of rice spring roll wrappers here for several weeks now, but I keep putting them off. :(

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 20, 2012 at 12:41 am

      I know what you mean, but we haven’t really gotten any hot weather here yet, oddly enough, so I still have energy. At least you don’t have to turn on the oven for these.

  • Reply
    Tricia
    June 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I am making these and I mean soon! I’ve never had them but know I will love ’em. Thanks for the great idea for a cool summer dinner. Ok I really want the peanut dipping sauce too. Love me some peanut butter!

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