Sunday, August 10, 2014

Vietnamese Made Easy - Summer Roll!

We all love summer rolls, even if we don't love Vietnamese food. But, what isn't there to love about it? A few months ago I tried Vietnamese with a neighbor for the first time. I became addicted. I just had a summer roll and a banh mi sandwich, both were amazing. The flavors of Vietnamese are quite different than other Asian cuisines. I noticed how fresh and cooling the food was. The use of fresh mint surprised me, but in a good way. You know how we call pork "the other white meat?" Well I'd like to call Vietnamese food "the lighter and fresher other Asian cuisine." 
So, after I tried and became addicted to the banh mi, I went back and tried a noodle dish which consisted of vermicelli noodles, grilled chicken, a small egg roll, and a bean sprout and carrot "salad" oh and a light orange toned sauce which is quite delicious. For $8 you can't beat it, plus you know what you are eating is healthier than American-Chinese food.
This past weekend I decided to do it! I was at my local Asian market and picked up the summer roll wrappers. There were so many sizes and a couple of brands to choose from. I picked a size that I thought would work well. 
First step: Arrange your area with the ingredients for your summer rolls. This will make rolling them speedy and  easy. Place a wet paper towel near to the wrappers and water.

Step 2: Have a small skillet of water on low, lightly simmer, but not boil. Try to have your filling station as close to the water as possible. You'll need to transfer your rice paper to a wet paper towel in seconds.

Step 3: Begin!  Dip a rice paper into the water, swish around with your fingers, maybe about 20 seconds. You will start to see it change consistency quickly. Take it out before it is too soft or jello-y. If you leave it in too long, it will rip easily. These are delicate, but not too difficult to handle. If you leave them in the water for just the right amount of time, its almost as if they are slightly al dente, then move them to the wet paper towel so they don't stick or dry out.

Step 4: Move fairly quickly, the rice paper is still absorbing water at this point, so throw in your beautiful ingredients. For your first couple, don't worry about the way it looks just yet. Try to get the feel for this. I usually place the fillings closer to my body, then fold them over, tuck under tightly and fold in the sides as you would with an egg roll. The hardest part will be trying to find where to separate the wrapper from the paper towel, but with practice, its easy!

Filling the wrappers
 Rolling the rolls
 And here are the final products! Since you will be making more than one, and when you see how addictive easy it is, you will want to make many for leftovers. But, its not easy to keep them as they stick to almost everything. If making these for a party, you might want to have a damp paper towel at the base of your serving dish, and then use romaine leaves to secure each roll. Using the leaf like this will be sure to protect it from touching the others and creates an edible vessel to serve with!
Of course you will need to make plenty of Vietnamese Peanut Dipping Sauce to go with these!

Summer Rolls Ingrediets:
Rice paper 
hot water

shrimp or boiled chicken
fresh basil leaves
fresh mint leaves
rice or tofu noodles
Shredded carrot
thinly sliced cucumber
Shredded lettuce
thinly sliced green onion

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