Appetizers & Sides, Main Course, Pasta & Rice, Recipes, Seafood
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Vietnamese Summer Rolls: Light and Fresh

It’s 38°C! I’m almost tempted to break and egg on the pavement and see if it gets cooked! My house feels like a mini sauna and I have officially stopped wearing pants at home. (I wear cotton dresses – go wash your dirty brains :P). So it goes without saying that summer is here! Which is both a boon and a curse depending on which part of the world you live in. I, for instance live in a city that has salubrious climate for 80% of the year so any extremes in temperature is treated with great disdain. (Yes, Bangaloreans are spoilt that way!). Every year we just whine and crib till the first showers of April hit the sands and then we whine and crib that it’s monsoon already. This year is no different except that I learnt how to make some Vietnamese Summer Rolls. It’s fresh, light and all kinds of colorful. Just what summer should be? 
This recipe is more about getting your mise en place and rolling technique right. Once you master than, you can churn out a gazillion of these with a flick of the wrist. (Ok, as usual I’m exaggerating, but you get the drift no?). Also since it’s a fresh roll, its best prepared and served just in time to eat. It doesn’t lower the temperature or anything, but I assure you summer will be more bearable – at least while you’re eating it! 

Vietnamese Summer Rolls (with Shrimp)

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Makes: 8 Full Rolls

What you need:

8 Rice Paper Spring Roll wrappers (I use Blue Diamond)
50 gms/ a handful of Rice Vermicelli, cooked (I use Mama)
200 gms Shrimp, cooked
1 small head of Romaine Lettuce (cut into strips)
1 small English Cucumber (cut into thin strips)
1 small Carrot (Cut into thin strips)
1 Small bunch Spring Onions (green stems, same length as carrots and cucumbers)
Fresh Herbs (Coriander/ Mint/ Asian basil/ Spearmint)
½ cup of Vietnamese Spring roll dipping sauce (I use a store bought variety)

What to do:

 For the Vermicelli: Soak in hot water for 5 minutes. Test to see if it is soft. It should still be elastic and springy. Immediately wash wish cold water to stop it from cooking any further. Roughly separate the strands and set aside. Cover with damp towel to prevent the vermicelli from drying out. 

For the Shrimp: Clean and poach the shrimp in salted water. It should take about 3 minutes to turn pink and curl up. Set aside. You can also add some lemongrass, fresh herbs and pepper to the water to flavor the shrimp. 

For the filling: Ensure your cucumber, carrot and green spring onion are chopped to the same length. Also ensure the strips are more or less the same width. Some people prefer to use the whole lettuce leaf, I prefer strips as it makes the final roll more visually appealing. 

For the Rice Paper: This is the tricky part. Some websites ask you to soak it in hot water for 5 mins and then lay it out to roll. Other websites ask you to place the dry paper on a board and pat it with water. I found this method from White on Rice Couple, the most reliable and easy.The chefs at Blue Ginger also use the same technique, so rest assured it’s top class. It involves taking a large bowl of water and soaking the paper part by part, while rotating it in a circle. (Think car steering wheel!). The goal is to get the paper wet and pliable but not sticky. It sounds complicated but the pictures do a great job of explaining it. (click here). It’s ok if you screw up with one or two sheets. Practice makes perfect.

To assemble:
1.    Take a large cutting board or clean slab and lay out the damp rice paper on it.
2.    At 1/3rd distance from the top lay out a bed of lettuce horizontally.
3.    Top with some rice vermicelli.
4.    Lay out 2 -3 sticks of carrot and cucumber.
5.    Top with some herbs then the cooked shrimp. Season.
6.    Now use the fold and tuck technique to make the roll. Flap over the edge and carefully tuck it in as you roll. (Think rolling a Cuban cigar)
7.    I cut the uneven edges off for a cleaner finish.
8.    You can cut the roll into mini bite sized (1 ½ inch) pieces like sushi or cut it diagonally into two pieces.
9.    Serve fresh with some dipping sauce. 

For more information on Summer Rolls you can read this article in the Guardian.   

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