A few of our friends live together and often host gatherings that revolve around food like Friendsgiving, a Bachelor/ette night (the meal balances out the drama), or sharing their heritage with us, such as Chanukah. Recently, I was really excited to get an invite to summer roll night, especially since my rolling skills were less than stellar the one time I attempted to make rolls on my own. Let’s just say I could use a pointer or ten. To make the invite even sweeter, holiday decorating would also be involved. Decorating and eating? Now, that’s my kind of party.
My friends do a really great job of making you feel like family and we were immediately swept into different roles. Jake was on point to cut bread for apps and I was enlisted to join tree decorating duty. Holiday music set the mood while the ingredients for the summer rolls were being prepped and we were all laughing, snagging apps, and bringing the holiday vibe to life.
Once the ingredients for the summer rolls were on the table, we gathered around to get rolling. This was a great dinner party idea, as we were all active, while still enjoying great food, company, and conversation. You can also make the summer rolls on the weekend for a delicious and healthy snack (or even lunch!) during the work week.
Now, summer rolls aren’t complicated, but there are a few steps that take practice, such as actually rolling them. Trust me, it isn’t easy as it looks. Here are a few pro tips and inside scoop from a summer roll expert, our friend Tom:
- Cut the protein (meat or seafood) you decide to use thinly, so it’ll cook faster on the griddle. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to serve a big group like ours that night.
- The rice noodles cook quickly (around 5 minutes when boiled). The length of time really depends on your preference—if you want al dente, take the noodles out sooner, but if you want softer noodles, keep them in the pot longer.
- You can wrap anything your heart desires! Want a sweeter roll? Throw some mango in there!
- When putting together the summer rolls, assemble and roll quickly before the rice paper becomes too soft. If the rice paper is too sticky, you can lightly wet your plate.
- To roll, fold the top and bottom in towards the middle/ingredients. From there, fold the side closest to you towards the middle/ingredients, and roll towards the other side. Here’s a visual guide:
Shrimp Summer Rolls
This recipe was adapted from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings cookbook with a few tweaks based on pointers from our friends. Pair the rolls with Thai sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut sauce, or simple soy sauce.
Time: 20 minutes to prep, 40 minutes total
Serves: 4 to 8 people, makes 8 rolls
- 4 to 6 red leaf lettuce leaves
- Kosher salt
- 8 medium shrimp, peeled
- 1 ounce thin Asian rice noodles
- 8 large or 16 small basil leaves
- 1 medium carrot, cut into 3-inch-long thin julienne strips
- 1 avocado, thinly slices
- 8 large or 16 medium mint leaves
- Purple cabbage (my personal addition— I love the crunch!)
- 8 round rice paper wrappers
- Thai sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut sauce (recipe below), and/or soy sauce for serving
1. Rinse the lettuce and pat dry. Remove and discard the center ribs and cut the leaves into 1-inch rectangles.
2. Fill a 4-quart saucepan halfway with water, generously salt the water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until just done, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon, rinse with cold water, and dry on paper towels. Cut the tails off and halve them lengthwise.
If you have an electric griddle, cook your protein on there with a little butter. As stated in Tom’s tips, make sure you cut the protein thin if you go this route, so it cooks faster. This is ideal for dinner parties, as it’s more interactive.
3. Cook rice noodles according to package/preference. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until cool.
4. Clear a large area and line up bowls of lettuce, shrimp, rice noodles, basil, carrot, avocado, and mint. Fill a plate (or plates if you have a big group) with warm water for soaking the rice papers.
5. One at a time, slide rice paper into the plate of warm water to moisten for a few seconds, until it begins to soften, but is not completely translucent. Remove from the water and place on a plate.
6. Place protein in the center of the wrapper, followed by lettuce pieces, 1 large or 2 small basil leaves, rice noodles, carrots, purple cabbage, an avocado slice, and top with mint leaves. Follow rolling steps above. Roll up tight and place on a plate lined with a damp paper towel.
7. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and ingredients.
8. Serve with sauces of choice.
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably not natural-style
- 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 3 tbsp. light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Sriracha
- 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
In a bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sriracha, vinegar, and 1/4 cup water, thinning with additional water if you prefer a thinner sauce.
(Top photo via: Take a Bite)