Hot Fun in the Summertime
Called goi cuon in Vietnamese, these fresh rolls offer a light and refreshing alternative to their oil-laden spring roll cousins. Although these are traditionally made with steamed shrimp and slivers of roasted pork, I like mine vegan with lots of crunchy veggies and no meat or seafood. I even spike them with a few shitake mushrooms sauteed in a bit of oil and then cooled – this addition makes the rolls even more filling as a main dish. Complete the non-meat meal with a tasty dip in some peanut sauce (find a version with no fish sauce) or hoisin sauce. Welcome to the ultimate in coolness.
You’ll note that there are no amounts in this recipe – fill the rolls to your liking with the veggies of your choosing and dunk away. It’s your show and you get to cast the characters. That means you’re cut, bean sprouts!
These rolls are truly fresh – no cooking involved and they are eaten at room temperature. This is a good recipe to tuck away for those summer nights when you couldn’t be bothered to slave over a hot stove. Or any night that you’re looking for a satisfying crunch of veggies that come in a different delivery mechanism than a meager salad.
Fresh Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon)
sprigs of mint
sprigs of cilantro
torn basil leaves
shitake mushrooms, sliced, sauteed and cooled
bean thread noodles (rice noodles), reconstituted and tossed with a bit of oil
Lay out all ingredients on a platter, making sure that all cooked ingredients (mushrooms, noodles) are at room temperature. For the bean thread noodles (or thin rice noodles), they can be found at most Asian markets (and many times at your regular grocery store). They need to be reconstituted in boiling water, drained, and cooled. If you can’t find them, you can replace them with chinese egg noodles.
The rice paper wrappers are an absolute essential for this recipe – if you can’t get them from your local Asian market, you can also order them (and many of the ingredients on this list) from Amazon. I was able to snag the wrappers and the bean thread noodles for a song.
Back to the rolls – with fillings all prepped set up an assembly station. Fill a large pie plate (that will hold one of your rice paper wrappers completely flat) with warm water. Set a cutting board next to that, and a cookie sheet or tray next to the cutting board. Begin by slipping a rice paper wrapper into the water and let it sit until it becomes a bit pliant but not soft, about 30 seconds. Always air the side of caution and make sure that your wrappers don’t become too soft or they will rip. Pull the wrapper out and place on the cutting board. Pile a small mound of lettuce, veggies and herbs on the lower quarter of the wrapper. Fold the left and right side of the wrapper towards the middle of the roll, and then roll the bottom up to the top, like a burrito. Place the roll onto the cookie sheet and let it hang out while you roll up the rest of the filling. Make sure that you don’t let the rolls touch each other or they will stick together.
Let the rolls air dry a bit until they are easy to handle. Serve with peanut sauce or hoisin sauce.
- If you enjoy a little seafood, add steamed and cooled shrimp to the rolls.
- For added crunch, throw in some red bell pepper strips or blanched snow peas.
- If you eat meat, you can add shredded chicken or pork to the rolls. Even more delicious if you toss the shreds with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.