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.
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
- 1 package spring roll wrappers
- radicchio leaves or any leafy green
- julienned carrots
- julienned English cucumber, don't peel.
- julienned scallions
- julienned radishes
- mint leaves
- cilantro leaves
- Gather all your clean, trimmed veggies together on a work surface.
- 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.
- Place your wrapper flat down and layer radicchio leaves down on it, leaving at least an inch all around.
- 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.
- Fold the top edge of the wrapper over, then starting from one side, fold the whole circle over, like a taco or an omelet.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve with dipping sauce.
- To store, cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap.
- 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.
- 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.