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Shrimp Summer Rolls

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Serves 6 to 8 as appetizer.

Yields 16 rolls.

  • by Nancie McDermott from Fine Cooking
    Issue 72

The classic Vietnamese summer roll is as lovely to look at as it is delicious to eat: plump shrimp, fragrant herbs, and rice noodles bundled in a soft rice paper wrapper. For a twist, try substituting Honey Ginger Chicken or Grilled Sesame Beef for the shrimp. Serve the summer rolls with one or more dipping sauces such as Nuoc Cham or Pineapple Lime Dipping Sauce.

  • 32 medium (31-40 count) shrimp, in their shells
  • 6-1/2 oz. thin dried rice noodles
  • 16 large round rice paper wrappers (about 8 inches in diameter); plus a few extra in case of breakage
  • 20 leaves bibb or Boston lettuce, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide strips (to yield about 5 cups loosely packed strips)
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro or basil leaves, or a mix
  • 4 scallions, trimmed, cut into 4-inch-long pieces, and sliced lengthwise into thin strips
Cook the Shrimp:

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop the shrimp into the water and cook until they turn pink and opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until the shrimp are cool. Peel the shrimp, slice them in half lengthwise, and devein if necessary.

Prepare the garnishes:

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in the rice noodles. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, gently lifting and stirring the noodles now and then as they soften, to cook them evenly and to keep them from clumping. Drain the noodles in a colander and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking. You should have about 4 cups cooked noodles.

Arrange the noodles, rice paper wrappers, lettuce, herbs, scallions, and cooled filling (shrimp, beef, chicken, or tofu) around a large cutting board or tray set before you. Have a platter nearby for the finished rolls.

Soften the rice paper:

You'll need a skillet of very warm water to soften the rice paper, and a cutting board or tray to lay it on.

Fill a large skillet halfway with very warm water. Slide a sheet of rice paper into the water and press gently to submerge it until it becomes very pliable, 15 to 30 seconds. Remove the rice paper carefully, shaking gently to help excess water drain off, and lay it before you on a cutting board or tray. (If the water becomes too cool to soften the paper, reheat it briefly on the stove.)

Vietnamese Spring Roll Recipe
Line up the ingredients:

Starting on the lowest third of the wrapper and working away from you, line up a narrow tangle of noodles (about 1/4 cup), a row of lettuce strips (about 1/4 cup), 5 to 7 good-size mint leaves, a row of cilantro or basil leaves, and a row of scallion strips. Leave about 1 inch of empty space along the wrapper's bottom and side edges.

Vietnamese Spring Roll Recipe
Make the first fold:

Starting from the edge closest to you, roll the wrapper up and over the fillings. Stop after the first turn to tuck and compress everything snugly into the wrapper. Once the first turn is good and tight, fold the right and left sides of the wrapper in onto the roll, closing off the ends, as though making an envelope.

Vietnamese Spring Roll Recipe
Add the protein:

Just above the cylinder you've already rolled, lay four shrimp halves, pink side down, a few strips of chicken, or one strip of beef or tofu. Roll the wrapper tightly, all the way to the top, and press the seam closed. If the wrapper is too dry to stick, dip your finger in the water and run it along the paper to moisten and then press the seam closed. Set the roll, seam side down, on the platter. Continue to fill and roll up the rice paper sheets until you've made 16 rolls. (Dont let the finished rolls touch one another or they'll stick.) Serve immediately (or drape a damp dishtowel over the rolls, wrap the platter tightly in plastic, and serve within two hours.)

Vietnamese Spring Roll Recipe
Make Ahead Tips

You can assemble summer rolls up to 2 hours in advance as long as you cover them with a damp dishtowel and wrap them well with plastic to keep the rice paper from drying out.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : per two roll serving; Calories (kcal): 211; Fat (g): 1; Fat Calories (kcal): 6; Saturated Fat (g): 0; Protein (g): 8; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 0; Carbohydrates (g): 44; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): 64; Cholesterol (mg): 43; Fiber (g): 1;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I've been wanting to make these for a long time! They are one of my favorite snacks at the Whole Foods sushi bar, and so have gradually assembled the packaged ingredients. The instructions here are very good and the key is to assemble all ingredients and just dive in.

These are very light and tasty and the sauces are especially good. I often make them before an informal family bbq, and involve people in the assembling.

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