As summer comes to a close and I am on an Asian foods kick, I wanted to share my new love of summer rolls. These are traditionally vietnamese rolls of fresh raw veggies stuffed inside a rice paper along with a protein or veggie to round it out as a meal. Sometimes there are also peanuts and red pepper flakes to give it crunch and a kick to accompany either a peanut sauce or a sweet and sour sauce. I am crazy about these treats for several reasons. They are fresh and tasty and are served cold so they would be good for a group. When wrapped well they are beautifully plated as the rice paper is a sea-through shell revealing the inside. They are great handheld snacks I can go on and on about these bites.
I started my research at a place in the Chelsea Market in NYC called beyond sushi. Since I do not like sushi after an unfortunate experience in San Francisco this was the perfect fit as they make vegan sushi meaning no raw fish involved. I tried the mighty mushroom which had tofu, mushrooms, and micro arugula wrapped in black rice. I also had the sweet angel summer roll which wrapped Buckwheat Noodles, Green Asparagus, Baked Sweet Potato, Alfalfa Sprouts, Romaine Lettuce and Chili Flakes in a rice paper roll. They both came with futuristic looking tubes of their homemade sauce. After this experience I needed to try to copy this idea…this is still a work in progress.
First, I figured I would stick with what I know and more traditional flavors. Here are some of the ingredients I tried in a variety of batches I have made. I have also learned to make sure to season and marinade the noodles and protein in vinegar before cooking and adding to the roll for even more flavor.
Ingredients I used although I plan on trying more like beef, chicken, mango, and buckwheat noodles.
Basil Cilantro Mint Red Pepper Flakes
Tofu, Shrimp, Rice Noodles
Kimchi Carrots Caramelized Onions Cucumber Lettuce
I know all of these need work in the presentation department, but that is why I admit to being a leaning amateur. I tried both a peanut dipping sauce as well as the TJ’d Gyoza sauce I highlighted yesterday. I liked them both but my favorite and most inventive one which I failed to take a picture of includes my favorite pizza toppings. I took several fresh veggies and added pineapple and bacon to the roll. I loved it, but maybe I loved the idea moreso because I still prefer them on my pizza best!