Want a refreshing appetizer that will whet the appetite of your guests and hint at the freshness of summer, but not fill them up or weigh them down? Try these deliciously fresh summer rolls.
When Chris and I were in Vietnam a couple years ago, we were pretty much in a food-lover’s paradise. Light crusty baguettes baked fresh every morning, with an egg omelet, a thin layer of pork pâté, some cilantro and hot sauce sandwiched within – UMM! The only thing that made breakfast any better was the deliciously strong Vietnamese coffee sweetened with condensed milk.
It was in Vietnam that we got the opportunity to eat snake, prepared 10 different ways, with a vast assortment of delicious side dishes. We also ate our share of piping hot bowls of pho, or beef soup noodles, plates of fried noodles, as well as huge thin crepes stuffed with a variety of fillings. One of the things we noticed about Vietnamese dining was that many dishes were accompanied by a big platter of fresh leafy vegetables – lettuces, basil, mint, and other vegetables I can’t put a name to. And these summer rolls were one of the freshest tasting little dishes we tasted while we were in the country.
Luckily they’re easy to reproduce, once you get the hang of rolling. Made with rice paper, tofu, and some quick-pickled vegetables, these Vietnamese-style summer rolls are served with a delicious peanut dipping sauce
Vegetarian Summer Rolls
Makes 10 rolls
10 sheets of 8-inch rice paper wrappers
1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned daikon radish
¼ cup white rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar
4 pieces pressed firm tofu (they’re sold in flat pieces rather than blocks)
Extra greens (thai basil, mint, etc… as you like)
2 heaping tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon white rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Chopped fresh red chilies (optional)
Put the carrots and daikon in a bowl with the rice vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Let them sit for 20 minutes, then drain.
Cut the pressed tofu into thin strips. Lay one rice paper wrapper on a flat surface, and moisten with a wet paper towel until it becomes soft, but not soggy. Lay some lettuce (and other greens, if using) on the wrapper, then add some tofu, carrots and daikon. Fold one side of the wrapper over the vegetables, then fold the sides over and finish rolling the summer roll. Repeat until all the rolls are finished.
In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the peanut sauce (the best way is to stir it briskly with a pair of chopsticks) until they come together.
Serve summer rolls with dipping sauce on the side.