Veggie Summer Rolls With Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

(Donal Skehan)
(Donal Skehan)

Introduction

Most large supermarkets now stock Asian foods such as rice paper wrappers. Keep them as a pantry ingredient, as they are great for a last-minute starter or snack—all you do is soak them in hot water and fill them with your favorite ingredients. This recipe is a traditional one, but you can treat rice paper wrappers as the vehicle for a whole host of healthy ingredients. Fill them with a selection of finely sliced greens, avocado, red cabbage, nuts and seeds, hot smoked salmon, or beans. The dipping sauce is an essential part of enjoying Vietnamese summer rolls, offering that subtle combination of salty, sweet, and spicy. I’ve added extra herbs, which isn’t necessarily traditional, but adds an extra layer to this wonderful sauce.

Number Serves

Ingredients

  • 36 cooked Asian tiger shrimp, peeled
  • 12 rice paper wrappers (8-inch round) or iceberg lettuce leaves
  • Handful of cilantro leaves
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Handful of sweet Thai basil
  • 1 cucumber, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 2 scallions, julienned

For the Sauce (Nuoc Cham)

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 to 2 small Thai chilies, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped

Directions

1. First make the dipping sauce: Mix the lime juice, sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the fish sauce, garlic, and chilies. Taste and adjust the flavors, if necessary, to balance out the sweet and sour. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature until needed.

2. Devein the shrimp, if necessary. If there is a black line down the back of the shrimp, use a small, sharp knife to make a shallow cut along the length of the line and carefully lift it out using the tip of the knife.

3. Place the rice paper wrappers in a heatproof bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for 5 minutes, until they’re soft and pliable (or prepare according to the instructions on the package).

4. Drain the wrappers on a clean dish towel and lay a few cilantro leaves along the middle of each one. Add a few leaves of mint and sweet Thai basil. Arrange 3 shrimp on each one and then scatter the cucumber, carrot, and scallions on top. Make sure you don’t overfill the papers, as they may split if you do.

5. Fold in the sides of each rice paper, then roll them up to make a neat cylindrical shape. Just before serving, mix the cilantro and mint into the dipping sauce and serve immediately.

Reprinted from “Fresh” by Donal Skehan. Published by Sterling Epicure.