I first ventured into summer rolls last year. Fresh, crunchy, cool, delicious. Perfect for summer. I’m a bit obsessed with them.
I’m not going to lie. These can be a bit frustrating at first, but, once you get the hang of rolling them, they are fun to make. And they are great for families because, like burritos or mini-pizzas, you can offer a variety of fillings, and each person can create a unique flavor combination.
I didn’t really plan to put these on the blog, but, once I got everything assembled, I decided to snap a few photos and roll with it. (How about that pun there!?)
So, I didn’t measure and there’s not an exact recipe below. But that’s kinda the beauty of summer rolls. The filling possibilities are endless. And they are an excellent way to use up random bits of veggies that are hanging out in your fridge. (Surely I’m not the only person who will open the produce drawer and find one carrot, 1/2 a cucumber in a baggie, a quarter of a cabbage, etc?)
For these, I used brown rice as my starch (sticky white rice or glass noodles work well here, too … or you can just use veggies). I also used carrot and cucumber ribbons (made with a basic veggie peeler), chopped green onions, chopped radishes, thinly sliced red peppers and purple cabbage, baked teriyaki tofu, and toasted sesame seeds. And our green leaf lettuce – lettuce is a critical component of these rolls! (Spring mix and bibb lettuce work really well, too).
Other yummy filling options include mushrooms, avocado, roasted butternut squash, cashews, raw okra, blanched green beans, mango, and bean sprouts.
The hardest part of making summer rolls is getting the hang of the wrappers. You’ll want to make these one at a time. You soak the wrapper for 10-20 seconds in warm water until it starts to soften – you want it soft but still firm because it will continue to soften after you take it out of the water. Then place the wrapper directly on your counter or on a lint-free towel and start to layer the fillings.
I start with a big leaf of green leaf lettuce and then pile on the other fillings. For extra flavor, you can grate a little ginger into the roll. Or you can add a little drizzle of soy or teriyaki sauce inside the wrap…or go bolder with carrot-ginger dressing or Thai chili sauce. (But don’t put too much liquid on the inside because these will get messy real fast).
Once you have a good pile of fillings, you’ll carefully fold up the top and the bottom then fold over the right side (stretching it as tightly as possible without tearing the wrapper). Finally, pull the left side over and try to really stretch it tight. The wrappers are sticky, so it will adhere to itself as you do all this folding and stretching. You’re basically making a little burrito.
Need a visual? Google “how to make a summer roll” and several YouTube videos will pop up (as well as some really yummy dipping sauce recipes!).
I love these dipped in Sweet Thai Chili Sauce. You can find this, as well as the rice paper wrappers, at almost any grocery store (either with the Asian foods or on the “international” aisle, depending on how your store is organized).
I hope you try these and love them as much as I do!