These are made from the simplest of ingredients but they have a lovely freshness and crunch. We ate them before a Vietnamese curry and they turned out to be our favourite part of the meal. They’re gluten-free, too, if that’s an issue for you. In spite of their name, it would be a shame to keep them for the summer months, because they’re just what the doctor ordered to combat the stodginess of winter.
The spicy peanut dip adds texture, heat and seasoning and the veg can be varied according to what you have handy – red pepper and Chinese cabbage are also good, as is blanched, tender-crisp asparagus in season.
I found the Vietnamese rice paper wrappers I bought online to be bigger, less fragile and easier to work with than the ones I got from a national supermarket chain.
Vegetarian Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
You only need a little of everything to fill the rolls. If you end up with too much, use the leftovers to make a simple salad, adding a sliced red chilli and dressing with lime juice and a small dash of toasted sesame oil.
Ingredients for the rolls:
2 rice paper wrappers per person
A handful of fresh beansprouts
1 small carrot, shredded or grated
1/4 cucumber, shredded into matchsticks
1/2 avocado, peeled and cut into thin slices, tossed in the juice of 1/2 lime
A small handful of cooked and cooled thin rice noodles
A few shredded mint leaves (or Thai basil if you can get it)
A few coriander leaves
For the dipping sauce:
100g peanut butter, gluten-free if necessary (I used a crunchy one)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1-2 tbsp Sriracha or other chilli sauce, to taste
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp dark soy sauce or Tamari (GF if necessary)
Juice of 1/2 lime
Water, to thin
Stir together the ingredients for the dipping sauce, thinning with water until you have a texture you like. Cover and set aside in the fridge.
Prepare the ingredients for the filling and have them ready. Fill a bowl with cold water, dip a rice paper wrapper in it and pat it until it is soft enough to work with. Don’t let it get too soggy or it will tear.
Lift it out and let the excess water drip back into the bowl. Place it on your board and about a third of the way up, lay a few noodles, some beansprouts, a little shredded carrot and cucumber, a sliver or two of avocado and a pinch of mint or basil. Don’t over-fill it or it will split.
Turn the bottom of the wrapper over the filling and fold in the sides, rolling towards the top as tightly as you can without tearing the wrapper.
Just before you do the final fold, place a coriander leaf on the wrapper and roll up so the leaf shows through. Place seam-side down on a plate and repeat until you’ve filled all the rolls. If you’ve never done this before the first one you make might be a bit baggy (chef’s perk) but you’ll soon be turning them out like a pro.
Cover lightly with some cling film and refrigerate until needed, then serve with the spicy dipping sauce. If you’ve made the dip a few hours ahead you may need to thin it again with a tablespoon of water.