Fresh Thai Summer Rolls

  • 01 of 10

    Fresh Thai Summer Rolls Recipe

    Making the Marinade. D.Schmidt

    INGREDIENTS: 

    (Serves 2 for dinner or 4 as an Appetizer)

    • 1 package of large dried rice wrappers or spring roll wrappers (also known as "rice paper"), available at all Asian/Chinese food stores
    • 1 generous cup chicken, ground or cut into strips, OR 1 generous cup firm or extra firm tofu, cut into strips
    • 1/4 cup liquid honey
    • 2 Tbsp fish sauce (available in tall bottles at Asian/Chinese food stores) OR vegetarian fish sauce (available at Vietnamese stores)
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 fresh chili,...MORE minced, OR 1-2 Tbsp chili sauce (omit if you prefer it mild)
    • 1/4 cup white wine or white cooking wine
    • 3-4 oz thin dried rice noodles - vermicelli type
    • 1/2 cup fresh basil
    • 1 cup fresh coriander
    • 4 spring onions, sliced thinly lengthwise (into matchstick-like pieces)
    • 2 cups lettuce (any type), chopped

    Make a marinade by combining the liquid honey, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, and chili or chili sauce (if using). Mix this with the chicken or tofu and set aside.

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  • 02 of 10

    Soak the Rice Noodles.

    Soaking Rice Noodles. D.Schmidt

    Place a pot of water on the stove. Bring to a near-boil and add the vermicelli rice noodles. Turn off the stove. Allow the noodles to soak in the hot water while you go on to the next step.

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  • 03 of 10

    Stir-Fry the Chicken or Tofu.

    Stir-Frying the Chicken. D.Schmidt

    Heat a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 Tbsp oil to the wok/pan and swirl around. Add the chicken or tofu (together with the marinade), plus 2-3 Tbsp white wine (or cooking wine).

    Stir-fry until chicken is cooked and tofu is heated through and fragrant (2-3 minutes). If needed, add more wine instead of oil (whenever the wok or pan becomes dry), 1-2 Tbsp at a time. This keeps the dish healthy and low-fat.

    When done, taste-test the chicken or tofu. If too salty, add a squeeze or two...MORE of lime juice. If not salty enough, add a little more fish sauce. Set aside the chicken or tofu.

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  • 04 of 10

    Drain the Noodles and Prepare Other Ingredients.

    Preparing Ingredients for Wrapping. D.Schmidt

    When the noodles are soft enough to eat (this takes about 10 minutes), drain them and rinse with cold water (to keep them from sticking). Place in a bowl.

    Prepare the other ingredients for the summer rolls: fresh basil and coriander, spring onion (scallions), and lettuce. Also, place the chicken or tofu that you made in a bowl.

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  • 05 of 10

    Prepare Hot Water for the Wrappers.

    Preparing Hot Water for Wrappers. D.Schmidt

    You will need a package of dried rice wrappers, also known as spring roll wrappers, or "rice paper," available at all Asian/Chinese food stores.

    Pour some hot water into a large bowl (larger than the wrappers), but not so hot you can't dip your fingers in it.

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  • 06 of 10

    Soften a Rice Wrapper.

    Softening a Rice Wrapper. D.Schmidt

    Gently slide the first wrapper into the water.

    The wrapper will be hard at first, then it will gradually soften in the hot water (it will only take about 30 seconds to soften completely). When soft, lift the wrapper out of the water and spread out on a clean surface (for rolling), such as a cutting board.

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  • 07 of 10

    Add Ingredients.

    Placing the Summer Roll Ingredients. D.Schmidt

    On the rice wrapper, lay out a little of all the ingredients, starting with the noodles, then adding chicken or tofu, spring onions, fresh herbs, and finally the lettuce.

    Tip: Lay the ingredients in the shape of a roll, but leave some space on either side (for wrapping).

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  • 08 of 10

    Lift up the Sides of the Wrapper.

    Beginning to Wrap the Summer Roll. D.Schmidt

    Lift either side of the wrapper over ingredients, then bring up the bottom end. Tuck over the ingredients and begin to roll.

    These rice wrappers are tougher than they look - you can wrap the ingredients quite tightly without tearing the wrapper.

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  • 09 of 10

    Finish Wrapping the Summer Roll.

    Finishing the Summer Roll. D.Schmidt

    Continuing rolling to the end of the wrapper. The wrapper should still be moist and will seal naturally. However, if you have trouble sealing it, just dab the end with a little water, then press.

    Continue rolling in the same way until all the chicken/tofu or other ingredients are used up.

    Another Rolling Option: Have your guest(s) roll as they eat - this is fun to do on a date or at a party. Simply place all the ingredients out on the table where you will be eating. Then set out a bowl of hot...MORE water and a cutting board, along with the wrappers. Show your guest(s) how to make the summer rolls.

    Rolling as you eat is a great way to enjoy this dish, and makes an excellent ice-breaker on a date!

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  • 10 of 10

    Serve the Summer Rolls (with a Dipping Sauce on the Side)

    Serving the Summer Rolls - Summer Fresh, Crisp, and Flavorful!. D.Schmidt

    If serving this dish at a party, try cutting the rolls into thirds or quarters, then setting them on a platter (see photo). This makes for a beautiful finger food or appetizer. Serve as is, or with a dipping sauce. 

    Dipping Sauces:

    • For the simplest dipping sauce, serve with Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (available in the Asian section of most grocery stores, or at Asian food stores).
    • These rolls are also very good served with Hoisin Sauce (available at most grocery stores in the Asian section).
    • An easy...MORE Thai sauce is simply to combine equal parts soy sauce and fish sauce with fresh-cut red chilies. Add a squeeze of lime juice too.
    • If you prefer a sweeter, non-spicy sauce (especially if kids are involved), try this easy dip: Mix 3 Tbsp plum sauce with 1 Tbsp soy sauce.
    • Personally, I prefer Summer Rolls with my: Easy Thai Peanut Sauce/Dip Recipe. Made with real peanuts (not peanut butter), this sauce is super-delicious and authentically Thai.

    Make-Ahead Tip: Summer rolls can be made several hours ahead of time, then simply cover and refrigerate. Just before your guests arrive, cut and place them on a platter together with your chosen dipping sauce (which can also be prepared ahead of time). Enjoy!