Hello Lover. Vietnamese Summer rolls are my absolute favorite thing on an appetizer list. Unfortunately, except for Vietnamese (and sometime Thai or other Asian Fusion) restaurants, it is rare to find them when eating out. There is something about the fresh, simple ingredients, that when wrapped in rice paper and dipped in peanut sauce, has a magical transformation.
I decided I can't get these little bundles of love as often as I'd like when dining out, so why not make them at home? Well, after my first experience, I almost gave up. That darn rice paper is very delicate after soaking. After breaking several, I just ate the big mess with a fork. But, I persisted. The next time I learned not to soak the rice paper quite as long, not to fill quite as full, etc. They are know starting to resemble an authentic summer roll. The best part is that you play around with whatever filling choices you want. I almost always begin with some cooked rice stick noodles and shrimp, but after that I play around. Lettuce - yes, carrot shredds - lots of color. In the ones above, I added some thin slices of fresh mango. Avacado takes them up a notch, as does, sauteed shitake mushrooms. Always add a little cilantro, mint, or basil (or combo of them.)
Now really, you can have all the essentials for a great summer roll, but in my opinion, a good dipping sauce is what makes or breaks it. I prefer a peanut sauce, but hoisin based sauces, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar, or a sweet and sour all work.
Here is the peanut sauce we make:
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp. fresh minced or grated ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
squeeze of fresh lime
chili garlic sauce - to taste
In this photo, I made a simple sauce with 2 Tbsp. fish sauce, 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp water, and 1 Tbsp honey. It was still a little to salty, and didn't really "stick" to the roll.
My nice wine pairing with Vietnamese and Thai food is a dry gewurztraminer. My favorite being the Claiborne and Churchill Dry Gerwurztraminer. It hails from Edna Valley, right outside of San Luis Obispo. A little spicy, a little fruity, and bone dry on the finish with hints of mineral. Hmmmm...I think I may have to go get some right now, before I make another batch of summer rolls.