On CNN Go’s World’s 50 most delicious foods list of 2011, summer rolls placed 30 out of 50. In the West, they are a great summer tradition even if there is no particular reason why they should be identified with summers. These recipes simply tend to be lighter than wonton rolls and other popular “non-summer” rolls – they are wrapped in rice paper and aren’t fried. Here are 10 ideas for summer rolls that you can try.
1. Vegetable summer rolls
Place a piece of lettuce on rice paper, spread peanut sauce on it and garnish with mint, basil, cabbage, noodles, cilantro and shredded carrot. Tightly roll the rice paper around the filling and serve.
2. Vietnamese summer rolls
The filling consists of peeled and deveined shrimp, rice noodles, mung bean sprouts, mint leaves, basil, cilantro, serrano peppers, shredded cucumber, scallions and lettuce leaves. Serve with peanut sauce.
3. Chicken summer rolls
The stuffing for this roll recipe requires shredded, cooked chicken (it’s common to use chicken left over from another meal), shredded carrot, julienned cucumber (to julienne is to cut into long and thin matchstick-like strips), lettuce leaves, rice, finely chopped scallions, chopped mint leaves, basil and cilantro. Like Vietnamese summer rolls, these rolls work well with peanut sauce, too.
4. Cucumber and avocado summer rolls
Place a lettuce leaf over a round of rice paper and arrange basil, mint, shredded carrot and cucumber and a piece of avocado over it. This roll goes well with mustard and soy sauce.
5. Thai summer rolls
Prepare a marinade with honey, fish sauce, lime juice, salt and chili sauce. Marinate ground chicken in it. Transfer both the chicken and the marinade into a wok, add 3 tablespoons of white wine and stir-fry over high heat. Serve with Thai chili sauce.
6. Popiah summer rolls
Season cod or sole fish fillet with salt and pepper, and cook in a nonstick pan, giving 3 minutes to a side. Flake the fish. Put a handful of roasted peanuts in a food processor and grind to a rough powder. Place a wok over medium heat and stir-fry shredded ginger, carrot and bean sprouts for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce, stir and remove. Make your rolls with these ingredients and serve with sriracha Thai chili sauce.
7. Mushroom salad spring rolls
Get 2 cups of shiitake mushroom caps, 2 cups of button mushroom caps and a cup of enoki mushrooms, and slice them into ¼-inch slices. Mix together and dress with lemon juice, mustard, yogurt, olive oil and ginger. Let the mushrooms marinate for an hour before you stuff your rolls with them.
8. Halibut and lemongrass rolls
Grill a halibut filet over high heat, giving 4 minutes to a side. Flake the fish into little chunks and toss in chili garlic sauce. Your rolls will also need lettuce, mint, cilantro, lemongrass and garlic.
9. Grilled sea bass summer rolls
Prepare a marinade with a clove of garlic, chopped Birdseye chili, fresh chopped ginger, sugar, lemon juice, fish sauce and crushed lemongrass. Marinate a whole descaled sea bass in it for an hour. Then, place the fish over a charcoal grill and cook 10 minutes to a side. Cut the fish up into small cubes and use in the summer rolls, together with noodles, shredded carrot, pineapple, cucumber and dill.
10. Peanut tempeh summer rolls
Using tempeh, a kind of Asian soy food, can be a great summer roll idea if you’re looking for the authentic Eastern flavor. Cut up 8 ounces of tempeh into French-fry-like strips and simmer for 10 minutes in boiling water seasoned with soy sauce. Dissolve peanut butter in the water and mix with the cooked tempeh. Let the tempeh mixture stand for a few minutes. Then, use the tempeh in the summer rolls, together with green onions, lettuce, cucumber, carrots, basil, cilantro and avocado.
As you can probably tell by these recipes, there is no hard-and-fast rule for what goes into a summer roll. You can experiment with anything that you have in the fridge.