These are like little salads you can eat with your hands. You can really improvise and use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Also, you can add shrimp, chicken, or tofu to these for some more protein. However, I liked them nice and light for these hot summer days. You may have to go to a larger store or an Asian market to get the rice paper wrap. The 3rd store was a charm for me–I picked some at at Pacific Green on Court Street in Cobble Hill. As a bonus, I also picked up some of their wonderfully fresh-cut watermelon for dessert.
These fresh summer rolls (as opposed to deep-fried spring rolls) are great to bring to a picnic or anywhere else. Just put a layer of damp paper towels on the bottom, seal them tightly with saran wrap, and they should be good to go a day in advance. If you want to store them in layers, put a layer of paper towels between the layers of rolls to keep them from sticking to each other.
The quantity of the ingredients list is flexible. It depends on your preference: you can make each roll with as much of each ingredient as you choose. One cucumber and one carrot will be good for about 8 rolls, which are each cut in half.
For the rolls:
- 1 package very thin rice noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 cucumber, cut in half cross wise and then into thin strips
- 1 carrot, shaved with a vegetable peeler
- 4 radishes, cut into matchsticks (First cut the radish into thin slices. Then, cut each round slice into strips.)
- 20 or so whole basil leaves (fewer if your leaves are bigger)
- 20 or so whole cilantro leaves
- 20 or so whole mint leaves (fewer if your leaves are bigger)
- 1 package rice paper wrappers: they look like this
For the dipping sauce:
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- water as needed to thin out the sauce
- optional: one clove or garlic, minced
- If you did not cook the noodles ahead of time already, get those going according to package directions.
- Prepare the dipping sauce: mix all ingredients together. Thin out with a few tablespoons or water at at time until you get your desired consistency. I added a bit more vinegar as well,so just taste and keep adjusting the amounts until you like the flavor.
- Fill a large sauté pan with warm water. Hopefully it is large enough for you to quickly dip the wrappers in without crushing them. The wrappers I got this time were HUGE (larger diameter than any of my pans) so I just dipped one half at a time. Here’s how it works: The wrapper needs to sit in warm water for a just a few seconds to become pliable so you can actually wrap with it. Then, you need to work fairly quickly but carefully so that you don’t tear the wrapper. Just do one at a time.
- After softening the wrapper, place it carefully on a work surface. Fill the middle with the goods: a small handful of noodles, a few cucumber sticks, a few radishes, a few carrots, a few of each: cilantro, basil, mint, whatever else you feel like.
- Then, get rolling. Fold the top and bottom up to close off the edges of your roll. Then, start wrapping from one side until you get the shape you want. You’ll need to be a little forceful with your vegetables to get them into roll-shape. Its ok, they can handle it.
- Cut each roll in half, and serve with dipping sauce on the side.