For months now, one of my friends has been telling me how easy and delicious summer rolls are, and I finally got around to making this dish!
This is another one of those daunting dishes, that is pretty simple when you actually get down to making it. I started with this recipe that really spelled out how to make a summer roll, and included simple steps for a homemade peanut sauce. To make this dish more fun, and to create a sort of competition, I decided to also make a duck sauce. I wanted to know which sauce was really better with a summer roll!
The competition was on between the sauces, and the challenge was on to see if I could make restaurant quality summer rolls.
The first sauce I made was the duck sauce. The recipe said it needs to sit for about an hour, so it is important to make this first before you make the peanut sauce and prepare your ingredients for the summer roll.
To start this process, make sure you have all of your ingredients:
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic chili paste
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh, minced garlic
In a mixing bowl, add all of the above ingredients and whisk together. Once fully mixed, cover your bowl and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
The next sauce I made was the peanut sauce. I first pulled all of my ingredients:
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
- 1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce
- 1-2 Tablespoons warm water, or more as needed
- crushed peanuts
Like the duck sauce, combine all of your ingredients, except for the warm water and crushed peanuts.
Whisk together your ingredients, and then once fully mixed, add your warm water. I added 1/2 tablespoon at a time, and totaled 1 1/2 tablespoons for my sauce to be the perfect consistency for me.
Crush some peanuts and sprinkle on top. Then set this sauce aside.
Here. We. Go.
Like all recipes, I start by pulling all my ingredients out, and preparing them. For this dish, you will need:
- 10 spring roll rice paper wrappers
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned**
- 1 large cucumber, julienned
- 1/2 of a large red pepper, julienned
- 1/3 cup chopped purple cabbage**
- 1 avocado, sliced
- handful fresh cilantro (and/or mint, basil)
- 5 large green lettuce leaves (romaine, butter, etc), torn in half
- 20 medium cooked shrimp, peeled and sliced in half length-wise
- sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
**I cut a few corners here and instead of cutting my own carrots and cabbage, I bought a bag of Asian slaw that had carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. This made the preparation time a lot shorter and it was just as good!
Once all your ingredients are cut up, it is now time to assemble and make your summer rolls.
1. Prepare the rice paper wrappers: I used a baking pan and filled it with warm water. You can used a bowl but I liked the pan because it kept the rice papers flat. Submerge one paper at a time into the water and let it sit for about 15-20 seconds. The water transforms the rice paper from an off-white and hard consistency into a clear and soft consistency that is easy to manipulate. Immediately remove from the water and place flat on a work surface such as a large plastic or ceramic cutting board. The papers are sticky and will stick to themselves, so be cautiousand make sure you are working on a non-stick surface.
2. Fill your roll: I tried two different ways, I started with lettuce on the bottom and layered all of my ingredients with shrimp being the last on top, but when I rolled them, they just weren’t as pretty. So I switched and started with the shrimp on the bottom and then layered all my ingredients with the lettuce on top. Both work, the only difference is aesthetics.
As you can see, I stuffed these rolls to the gills. I later learned that you should not do this. The more filled they are, the harder it is to roll them tightly, so it is important to keep this in mind as you put 10 different ingredients into these tiny wraps!
3. Roll your summer rolls: This process is very tricky, so I took a lot of photos. Start by puling up the bottom of your rice paper (it is almost impossible to see below since it is clear), and then do the same for the top.
With the bottom and top pulled up, start with one side and pull the wrap over your ingredients. Use your finger to hold the inside ingredients in place.
Once the paper is pulled up, roll the entire roll until there is no more rice paper. Remember you want this to be a tight roll.
In the end you should have a gorgeous summer roll! The roll below was made by placing the shrimp on the bottom and then stacking the other ingredients on top.
After you complete each roll, move them to a separate plate and start working on your next one. I made about 8 rolls total, but depending on how stuffed your rolls are, you can make closer to 12.
After all of your summer rolls are made, cut them in half. This is the moment of truth if you rolled them tight enough. You can tell mine are a little loose, but hey they still taste the same!
Plate your dish and the challenge decision
It is now time to put your rolls on display. Be careful when placing these close to each other as they are sticky and you can rip the rice papers.
With your rolls laid out, place a spoonful of both you homemade duck sauce (left) and peanut sauce (right) on your plate.
My rolls did fall apart a little, because I overstuffed them, but this is a learning lesson. Next time I’ll limit the amount of ingredients so I can roll them tighter.
As for which was the best sauce??? It was a tie! Honestly my boyfriend and I loved both of them equally and thought that having both sauces made this dish better as we could switch between the two! The duck sauce was a sweet and light, where the peanut was a little heavier and creamier. Both worked perfect with the summer rolls!
My lunch leftovers were just as good, and both sauces held up! This was a fantastic recommendation and a truly health dinner that I will make all the time!