Cool, crunchy, fresh, sassy, and fragrant are five words I’d use to describe these beautiful, healthy summer rolls.
What is a summer roll you ask? The summer roll is the spring roll’s sassy, fit and healthy cousin. You know her, right? She always looks radiant, has loads of energy and hasn’t aged a bit in the last 20 years—that’s the one! I want to be her. Hmmm—someday, I hope.
So what is a summer roll, really? Picture this: The same wrapper as a spring roll, but not deep fried in oil, go ahead and stuff it with fresh ingredients such as matchstick veggies, bean threads, poached shrimp (if you want), chilies and fragrant herbs. You can add other ingredients too, whatever your little heart desires. Summer rolls rock! I’ve seen several yummy sauces used as a dip for these beauties too. I used a simple lime/fish sauce for mine, but I also see a lot of people using a peanut or chili sauce. I have to try a peanut dipping sauce next time, which I believe will be very soon. I am totally addicted to summer rolls now! I’m pretty sure spring rolls are completely off the plate for me—there’s no way I can go back after having one of these babies.
Let’s talk about the details of this recipe for a moment. There are a couple ways you can make the bean threads. My favorite is to quickly fry them in some oil. They are super fast to make and you can do it in a skillet or pot with about a ¼ inch of oil. They puff up quickly and become these squiggly little crunchy things and are sooo good. You can also boil them or use cooked rick sticks. If you’d rather, replace the bean threads with more protein or veggies instead.
Moving on to the rice paper now. You’ll want to have some sort of vessel you can dip these into to soften them. I use a skillet with some hot water and then dip and flip the wrappers a couple times until I feel they are pliable enough to work with. I then transfer them to a wet tea towel to assemble with my ingredients. Once my first roll is complete, I lay it on a plate and place another wet tea towel over it. As you add assembled rolls to your plate, be sure to leave an inch or two between them so that they don’t stick together and tear the delicate rice paper.
As you can see from the pictures and video (below), I made several rolls using lettuce and several rolls without. The rolls with the lettuce were easier to roll with the crunchy bean threads. I do like them both ways, though!
Check out my video on assembling and rolling a Vietnamese summer roll:
If you make this recipe, I want to see! Tag your pic with #basilandoregano on Instagram. Also, don’t forget to leave a comment and rating below. Thanks!
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- 1 bundle bean threads, or rice sticks (about 50 grams)
- butter lettuce leaves, whole (optional)
- 1 English cucumber, julienne cut
- 1 red bell pepper, julienne cut
- 2 carrots cut into matchsticks
- 4 green onions, cut into strips
- 6-8 rice paper rounds
- Radish (type of your choice. Daikon works well), sliced or julienne cut
- 1-2 Serrano or Thai chili (optional)
- 6-8 large shrimp (optional)
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh Thai basil
- Fresh mint
- Dipping sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons water
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoon sugar or sweetener
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes (or fresh chili, diced)
- For the dipping sauce, combine fish sauce, water, lime juice, sugar, and chili in a bowl and give it a good stir. Set aside until ready to serve.
- If you want crunchy bean threads in your rolls, heat up a ¼ inch or more of vegetable oil in a pan. Test the oil by placing a small piece of bean thread in the oil. It’s ready if the bean thread immediately puffs up. While the oil is getting nice and hot, break apart your bundle of bean threads slightly by pulling them apart. Add a handful or more of bean threads to your hot oil. Turn the threads, as needed, to puff all the threads. Note: Threads are really tough if they aren’t puffed up. You don’t want those in your rolls, trust me! Place puffed bean threads on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.
- Add about an inch or two of hot water to a pan large enough to soak the rice paper without bending it. Place on a burner so that you can turn it on/off as needed to keep the water warm enough.
- On a countertop or cutting board, place a damp tea towel (or other lint-free towel) flat.
- Soak one rice paper round in the hot water just until it’s pliable. Transfer round to damp towel and spread it out flat. Note: it’s very sticky and clingy!
- Assemble the roll starting with either the lettuce or shrimp (if using), then veggies, herbs, chili and bean threads.
- Roll the rice paper and ingredients like you would a burrito (be careful not to tear the delicate paper), tucking ends in as you go.
- Place finished rolls on a dish and continue the process of making rolls. Leave at least an inch between rolls to keep them from sticking to each other. Place a damp tea towel on top of the finished rolls to help keep them fresh. Eat immediately.