Though Thai food is my favorite food to eat, Vietnamese is a close second. Like Thai food, Vietnamese food uses lots of fresh ingredients, a variety of herbs, and fish sauce and lime juice make an appearance in most dishes. Vietnamese food is not only incredibly flavorful, but it’s also healthy. Always a bonus! Here is one of my favorite summertime recipes that requires minimal effort and maximal reward for your taste buds.
Fresh Shrimp Summer Rolls
60 minutes of active prep
-10 8-inch dried spring roll wrappers
-15 medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
-4 oz. rice vermicelli noodles
-⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
-1 ½ tbsp. sugar
-2 tsp. kosher salt
-1 lime, juiced
-1 small daikon, cut into 3 inch sections
-1 large seedless cucumber, cut into 3 inch sections
-1 large carrot, cut into 3 inch sections
-⅓ cup cilantro leaves, plus 1 tsp. chopped cilantro
-20 leaves basil
For the dipping sauce:
-¼ cup fish sauce
-⅓ cup fresh lime juice
-2 tbsp. sugar
-¼ cup water
-1 tsp. Sambal chili
-1 clove garlic, finely minced
DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.
When ready to serve, add the 1 tsp. of chopped cilantro.
1. Bring a large pot of water and a small pot of water to a boil. Season both with salt so the water tastes like the ocean (the same as you would do for pasta water). Once the water boils in the large pot, add the vermicelli and turn off the heat. Let the noodles sit in the water for 7-9 minutes. You are looking for a bit of chew but not al dente noodles. Taste the noodles as you go so as not to overcook them. Drain and return to pot and cover with cold water; don’t drain until you’re ready to use or they will stick together in a big clump.
2. Once the small pot boils, turn the water off and add in the shrimp. Let the shrimp cook until they have turned pink, about 2 minutes. Strain off water and cover shrimp with cold water to stop them from cooking. Once cool to the touch, slice each shrimp in half down the center, head to tail.
3. Take your segments of cucumber, daikon and carrot and shave them lengthwise on the mandoline so you have ⅛th inch pieces to work with. Then use your knife to cut matchsticks out of each vegetable. For a quick cut, line up all your cucumber pieces so they are perpendicular to you. Overlap them. Then take your knife julienne, or finely slice, all the way across your cutting board. Do the same with the daikon and carrot.
4. Mix together the fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt and lime juice. Stir with your fingers so you can feel when all the sugar and salt have dissolved. Place the matchstick veg in a bowl and try to keep them separate. Pour the sauce over the veg and let sit for a few minutes (3-4) to marinate. Drain off the marinade or the veggies will get too soggy.
5. Fill a pie plate, large bowl or casserole dish with warm water. Working with 1 rice paper round at a time, soak rice paper in water, turning occasionally, until just pliable but not limp, about 10 seconds. You still want a bit of crinkle left in the papers because they will continue to soften while you’re working with them. If you soak them until they are soft, they will be too delicate to work with. Transfer to a cutting board. Arrange 3 shrimp halves, pink side down, across the lower third of the round. Top with some leaves of cilantro and 2 basil leaves, then add the marinated vegetables. Use a small pinch of daikon, cucumber, and carrot. Strain the noodles and give them a good squeeze to get rid of the excess water. Then arrange a small amount of noodles over the veg. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling, then fold in the ends, and then continue to roll like a burrito into a tight cylinder. As you’re rolling, pull gently towards you to make sure the paper is taught. If you happen to tear the paper, no stress. Just wet another rice paper and roll the torn roll inside this new paper. Transfer roll, seam side down, to a platter. Keep covered with damp paper towels. Repeat to make 9 more rolls.
If not eating immediately, keep rolls covered with damp paper towels, and wrap in plastic wrap. These can be made 2 hours in advance and kept at room temperature.
When ready to serve, place rolls on a platter with the dipping sauce, or serve on individual salad plates with individual bowls of dipping sauce.