Balance is the key to a flavorful summer roll
Asian cuisines are known for their contrasting yet complementary textures and flavors. In summer rolls, for every crunchy or chewy ingredient (like cucumber or rice noodles), there’s something tender, too (like poached pork). And the sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter flavors characteristic of Asian food are all represented in the dipping sauces.
Get the recipe: Pork and Shrimp Summer Rolls
Considering how flavorful these rolls are, they’re surprisingly easy to make. Once you’ve prepped the simple filling ingredients (most can be made ahead) and whipped up a dipping sauce or two, all you have to do is assemble the rolls and enjoy. Your family, like mine, will love the results.
Assemble the rolls in six simple steps
Step 1: Fill a large, shallow, round dish with cold water. Submerge a rice paper wrapper in the water until very pliable, about 1 minute.
Step 2: Carefully remove the wrapper from the water, gently shaking off excess water. Lay it flat on the work surface and blot dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Step 3: On the lower third of the wrapper, leaving about 1 inch of space along the side and bottom edges, layer the fillings in the following order: 3 shrimp halves, cut side up; 2 mint leaves, lengthwise; 1 lettuce leaf half, folded or trimmed to fit if necessary; 2 pork slices; 5 or 6 cucumber slices; about 2 Tbs. of the noodles; and about 6 carrot strips.
Step 4: Wet your fingers to keep the wrapper from sticking to them. Starting with the edge closest to you, fold the wrapper up and over the fillings. Be sure the fillings are snugly compressed but not so tight that the wrapper is strained, or it may rip.
Step 5: Once the first turn is tight, fold the right and left sides of the wrapper in, closing off the ends as though making an envelope.
Step 6: Continue rolling the wrapper tightly all the way to the top and press the seam closed. Set the roll seam side down on the platter. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Don’t let the finished rolls touch one another or they’ll stick.
Get the Recipes for the dipping sauces