Some people also call these spring rolls, not to be confused with their deep-fried cousins also served at Thai restaurants (though the recipe mentions these as hailing from Vietnam). What can I say, I’m a true Southern girl, I suppose, cuz I’ve always opted for the fried ones. After seeing this version in a recent Martha Stewart magazine, and Sis Blogging Partner pulling for them, I remembered I’d always wanted to try them at the restaurant. They look so fresh and light, and who can resist that?
What followed can only be described as a foodie odyssey of texture. Take that as you will!
The rice paper made this an adventurous recipe to shop for. If you get the chance to visit an Asian market, that’s probably your best bet unless your local super wonder grocery store happens to have a really good Asian section. I found a local Asian store and while I’d revisit it again and again for some of its other things, I’m not so sure about that rice paper.
But…but! There’s such delicious-looking things in this shot besides rice paper! Yup, there sure are. Let’s see how this all played out.
The shrimp instructions advise buying with the shells on. I like that the ones I got were also already deveined. I kinda hate that chore. Yuck-o-rama. But I do love the shrimps, so sometimes it’s a matter of achieving that love. Fortunately, a lot of stores do that for you.
To prepare the rice sticks, or rice vermicelli as it might be called, just boil up some hot water and let the stuff steep for about thirty minutes. Ours needed just a tad longer.
The directions say to give the carrots and cabbage an ice bath for the same amount of time, thirty minutes. I am not sure why. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t do this step next time. I can’t discern what difference it was supposed to make.
OK, see, this is why having the shrimp deveined prior to cooking them is so handy – it makes them much easier to slice in half.
It’s hard to see (and it was impossible for us to get you a shot to show it, really), but the dampened rice paper is sitting on the cutting board and we’ve started layering on the spring roll ingredients.
Almost time to roll these things up! After the shrimp we put some green onions, matchstick carrots and cucumber, basil and the steeped and now pliable rice sticks onto the pile. To see an informative way to roll these up, kind of burrito style, go here.
A word to the wise: the rice paper wrappers will be pretty sticky. Don’t panic if they stick to your board or even each other after they’re made and on your platter. Just gently pull until the wrapper gives. We never had any tear.
In truth, this is an easy recipe, but it’s one of those that comes with just enough prep work to make it seem like work. And in all honesty…they’re not for me even though they did get a big thumbs up from Sis Blogging Partner, who’d had them before. Still, I’m all for new experiences. But I’d probably not make them again this way. The Southerner in me wants to try the deep-fried version next time, though. It’s the texture of the dampened rice paper that got to me. It’s…stretchy. If these things are your thing, though, they are definitely worth making at home to have a little Asian meal all your own. The prep work isn’t so much to deter them from being a fun evening meal. I’d make them again – just not for me!
Shrimp Summer Rolls
from Martha Stewart Living, July/August 2013
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes Level: Easy Makes: about 20 rolls
1 pound medium shrimp (about 30) in shells
8 ounces rice vermicelli (rice-stick noodles)
1 small head Napa cabbage, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
5 medium carrots, cut into 1/8-inch-thick, 3-inch-long matchsticks
1 English cucumber, cut into 1/2-inch-thick, 5-inch-long wedges
6 scallions, dark green tops only
1 bunch Thai or Italian basil
1 package spring-roll skins (Bánh tráng)
For dipping: Peanut Dipping Sauce and chili paste
Bring one inch water to a boil in a large, deep straight-lined skillet. Submerge shrimp; immediately remove from heat and cover. Let stand 3 minutes; drain. Let cool and peel. Cut in half lengthwise and devein. Shrimp can be stored in the refrigerator up to one day.
Place vermicelli in a baking dish and cover with one inch hot tap water. Let stand until water is tepid, about thirty minutes; drain. Vermicelli can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one day.
Submerge cabbage and carrots in 2 separate bowls of ice water 30 minutes; drain. Place alongside cucumbers, scallions, basil, shrimp and noodles on a platter.
Pour at least one inch warm water into a bowl slightly larger than the spring-roll skins. Submerge one skin in warm water until pliable but still firm, about ten seconds. (Replace warm water as necessary.) Transfer to a plate. For filling and rolling, simply place three or so shrimp cut side down on the damp wrapper. Layer on the basil, scallions, a few of the carrots and one or two cucumbers, and a small hand full of the vermicelli. Using both hands, lift the side of the skin closest to you and over the filling, folding in both ends burrito style. With a firm hold on the part of the roll with the filling inside, continue to tightly roll away from you until the roll is sealed. The dampness of the skin will help to seal as you go. Serve with the dipping sauces.
I really wish this version of Martha Stewart Living’s recipe was online ( I couldn’t find it) because there’s a handy illustration of the rolling process. For further and even better reference, though, be sure to watch the video linked in the commentary above. They make pretty much the same version.
There are dipping sauce recipes that follow this in the magazine, but to save some time, I bought a peanut dipping sauce at the store and I already had chili paste at home. I also felt this would be more cost-effective, and each sauce really is relatively cheap for the amount you get. If you prefer to make you own dipping sauce, though, Google can help you search for thousands of recipes online. Sis blogging partner also suggested plum sauce, and I agree its tangy sweetness would be great with these.
However…next time I’m just going to forgo the wrappers and eat the rest like a salad!