Vietnamese-Style Summer Rolls with Dipping Sauce
Once you have assembled the ingredients, these irresistible rolls are easy to make. The trick to making summer rolls that will not fall apart is not to stuff them too full and to roll them tightly. Serve the rolls as soon as possible, as the rice paper toughens the longer it stands.
For the dipping sauce:
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbs. sugar, plus more, to taste
- 2 tsp. minced jalapeño chili, plus more, to taste
- 2 large dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 1/2 oz. dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
- 4 large butter lettuce leaves, halved
- 1/2 cup coarsely shredded carrot
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
- 1/2 cup torn fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup torn fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 lb. medium shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
- 8 large rice-paper rounds, each 10 to 12 inches in diameter
To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, combine the lime juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the jalapeño, then taste and add more sugar and jalapeño if desired. Divide evenly among 4 small bowls for dipping. Set aside until ready to serve.
Place the mushrooms in a small saucepan with water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand until the shiitakes are softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, remove and discard the stems, and cut the caps into thin slices. Place in a small bowl.
Bring a large saucepan three-fourths of water to a boil over high heat. If the rice noodles are folded into a skein, cut at the fold. Add the noodles to the boiling water and boil, uncovered, until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, place in a bowl and set aside.
Place the lettuce, carrot, green onion, cilantro, mint and shrimp in separate bowls or arrange in mounds on a large tray.
When ready to make the summer rolls, fill a large, wide bowl with hot (about 120°F) water and place on a work surface. Dampen a clean kitchen towel, wring it out as dry as possible and spread it out next to the bowl of hot water. Set the prepared ingredients alongside the towel.
Dip 1 rice-paper round in the hot water and let stand until soft and pliable, about 10 seconds. Lift from the water and lay flat on the towel. Place a lettuce leaf half in the center of the round, making sure it is at least 1 inch from the edges. Using about one-eighth of the noodles, spread them in a line across the bottom of the rice paper. Top with a few shiitake slices; a pinch each of the carrot, green onion, cilantro and mint; and a shrimp.
Fold up the bottom of the rice paper round and then fold in the sides. Tightly roll the rice paper around the ingredients, sealing the seam against the roll. Place the roll, seam side down, on a platter. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Cut each roll in half on the diagonal and serve with the dipping sauce. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).