Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cooking: Summer Rolls (in the winter)

Summer rolls are one of those things that may look complicated but it's really far from it. Essentially, they're like burritos but with different ingredients like rice paper rolls instead of a tortillas. You can pretty much put anything in it but I'd like to keep it light (it's normally eaten when the weather is warm) so it remains refreshing.

Here's a shot of the ingredients. Starting from the top left and going clockwise: spring mix, fried shallots, cooked shrimp, soaked bean thread noodles, rice paper rolls/spring rolls skin, basil.
Before you start rolling you summer rolls, make sure everything is cooked, washed, soaked, and prepped. Basically, you want everything to be ready. First the rice paper roll. It's stiff and can crack easily. So be careful.
To soften it, take a pie plate and fill it with warm water. Not hot, just warm. Soak the sheet of rice paper in there.
Soak it for a few seconds and it becomes completely pliable. Now you can work with it.
Carefully place the rice paper roll on a clean, dry towel. Spread out. Place fillings in the middle. Avoid overfilling your summer rolls. The wrapper can easily split.
Now bring the bottom up 1/3 of the way.
Then bring the sides in.
Finally, tuck the rest of the ingredients under and finish rolling.
The first few may look weird but you'll get better as you make them. Cover with a damp towel and continue with the rest of the rolls. Once finished, serve immediately. The rolls can dry out and become hard. If that happens, you can run it under water to soften again. Pat dry before eating. But they're much better when fresh. Oh and the sauce that I use is mix of peanut butter, fish sauce, and hoisin sauce. Not authentic but it works in a pinch.

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