Summer rolls are eaten all over Vietnam at small cafés, roadside restaurants, and stalls. Quite different from fried spring rolls, they are a refreshing burst of flavors and textures. Excellent as a snack or canapé, or at the start of a larger meal, they come in many different seasonal and regional variations. Texture is very important in Vietnamese cooking and, with the firm prawns, tender crabmeat, and crisp fresh vegetables and herbs, you have everything going on in one contained mouthful. They are so juicy you don’t really need a dipping sauce. (Summer rolls with prawns, crab, ginger, and mint) Ingredients
– Serves 4–6.
– 3–4oz (100g) dried rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles).
– ½ cucumber.
– 12 cooked fresh prawns, peeled and deveined.
– 3 tbsp cooked crabmeat (use fresh-picked crabmeat if possible).
– 10 fresh mint leaves, chopped.
– 2 scallions (green onions), cut into slivers.
– 3⁄4in (2cm) piece of fresh ginger, grated.
– juice of 1 lime.
– 2 tbsp soy sauce.
– 2 tbsp Asian fish sauce.
– 12 or so rice paper wrappers (available from Asian grocers or gourmet food shops).
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 1: Put the vermicelli in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for about 5 minutes while you prepare the rest of the filling. Thinly slice the cucumber, leaving the seeds in the center untouched. Stack the cucumber slices, then cut into thin matchsticks. If wrapping your summer rolls in a cone shape, leave the prawns whole; if using the more traditional cylinder spring-roll shape, halve or finely slice if large. Mix everything except the vermicelli and rice paper wrappers in a bowl. Drain the vermicelli, cut into smaller lengths using kitchen scissors, and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and mix again. Adjust seasoning. Soak the rice paper wrappers, about 5 at a time, in warm water for 20 seconds or until softened. (Be careful they don’t stick together, as they tear easily.) Lay out 4 or 5 wrappers side by side on a clean damp tea towel on a flat surface—this keeps the wrappers pliable. Place a tablespoon or so of the filling on each wrapper about 1in (2.5cm) from the bottom edge and in the center, leaving 1–2in (2.5–5cm) of wrapper on either side. To make a cone, fold one side of the wrapper toward the center; to make a more traditional spring roll, fold both sides toward the center. Fold the bottom edge facing you over the top of the mixture and, using firm pressure, roll up so the filling is enclosed. (Top the cones with a little extra filling if needed.) Place on a tray covered with another clean damp cloth. Repeat the process with the remaining wraps and filling. To prevent the wrappers drying out, cover tightly with plastic wrap until needed.