Summer Rolls with Shrimp, Cucumber and Mango

April 12, 2012


Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 45 minutes

Summer is just around the corner. Really, I swear it is. So to usher in the lighter tastes of those lazy, hazy days, I’m offering you an appetizer and origami project in one…the summer roll. A fresher, leaner Thai version of a Chinese egg roll, the summer roll is one of my very favorite tastes. Essentially a salad of noodles, carrot, cucumber, mango and shrimp rolled into a rice paper wrapper, these scrumptious bundles can serve as an appetizer, luncheon main course or as part of a multi course meal. The dipping sauce is a bright blend of lime, chile and sugar with just enough fish sauce to make it savory. If you’re feeling brave, arrange the ingredients on platters and let your guests roll their own at the table. But, with one word of warning; you will have to give up control of the roll. Their efforts might turn out a little wonky but it’s a definite conversation starter and they will have a blast comparing each other’s handiwork. No matter how they look, they’ll be delicious. I swear.

It’s that easy: Rolling up these little cylinders is easy. I think the most important factor to rolling success is in pulling the rice paper from the water before it is completely pliable. They really do continue to soften as you fill them up. If you have one of the Epicurean cutting boards that are made of a composite plastic/wood material, go ahead and use that as the rolling surface for just the right amount of stick and release.

Makes about 24 pieces

2 oz/55 g rice-stick noodles
1 mango, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks
1/2 medium seedless cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 carrot, grated
1 serrano chile, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup/120 ml tender cilantro stems and leaves
1/3 cup/75 ml mint leaves
1/2 cup/120 ml lime juice, (about 4 limes) divided
2 1/2 tbsp/37.5 sugar, divided
2 tbsp/37.5 ml plus 1 tsp/5 ml fish sauce, divided
24 raw medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
12 8-in/20 cm rice-paper rounds

Soak the noodles in boiling water to cover for 15 minutes or until they are softened.

While the noodles soak, peel and slice the mango, cucumber and green onions, grate the carrot and mince the chile and garlic on a large cutting board in separate piles. Measure out the cilantro and mint leaves and squeeze the lime juice.

Make the dipping sauce: Combine half the green onion, the Serrano chile, garlic, 1/3 cup/75 ml lime juice, 1 1/2 tbsp/22.5 ml sugar and 1 tbsp/15 ml fish sauce in a medium bowl and let it sit for the flavors to develop.

Drain the noodles. Combine 1 1/2 tbsp/22.5 ml lime juice, 2 tsp/10 ml sugar and 2 tsp/10 ml fish sauce in a medium bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Toss in the drained noodles to coat them with the dressing.

Combine the remaining1 1/2 tbsp/22.5 lime juice, 2 tsp/10 ml sugar and 2 tsp/10 ml fish sauce in a small bowl.

Now you’re ready to cook: Heat a 12-in/30.5 cm frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat and add the shrimp and remaining lime mixture. It will be bubbly. Toss the shrimp around in the liquid for 1 minute, remove the pan from the heat, cover it and let the shrimp sit in the hot pan for 1 minute to finish cooking. Scoop the shrimp from the pan with a large slotted spoon and transfer them to a plate to cool.

Now you’re ready to assemble the summer rolls: Fill a shallow baking dish at least 8-in/20 cm wide with warm water (a large plate or round platter should work). Soak 1 rice paper round in the hot water until it begins to soften and become pliable, about 10 to 20 seconds. Don’t let it get too soft or it will be hard to handle and remember it will continue to soften while you fill it. Transfer the still slightly firm sheet to a work surface and lay it flat.

Arrange a few mango and cucumber slices, cilantro and mint leaves, green onion and carrot across the bottom third of the soaked rice paper about 5-in/12 cm wide. Lay down 2 shrimp and about 3 tbsp/45 ml of the noodles across the top. Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper up over the filling and roll it up tightly to the halfway mark. Fold in the sides and continue to roll snugly to the end. Lay the summer roll on a plate and continue to roll the remaining summer rolls in the same way. Since they’ll stick together, arrange them so that they aren’t touching.

Cut the rolls in half and serve them with the dipping sauce.

In the glass: The Fetzer Vinyards Valley Oak Riesling is a steal for under $10.

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