There is a new International food market in our neighborhood and I could not wait until it opened. So on a Saturday afternoon I went on an adventure to check it out. I fully expected to be disappointed, only because it took over the space for an old regular grocery store that had closed a couple years prior. Apparently in my mind this meant I would be walking into the exact same store, with an extra isle or two thrown in. Boy, was I wrong. I was amazed by what I found. I had never seen so many types of fish under one roof. Aisles and aisles of Hispanic, African, European and Asian foods were everywhere. I actually had a hard time finding things that are staples in America like cream cheese and baking powder.
Then there was the produce. I cannot begin to explain the glee I felt exploring the produce section. Durian, rambutan, fresh sugar cane, Indian and Japanese eggplants, Thai ginger and basil. Wait a minute…Thai basil? I had finally found it. We have enjoyed Pho noodle soup and Vietnamese summer rolls for so long and I always swooned over the Thai basil. It is so different from the typical sweet basil you find in your average grocery store and I have never been able to find it. Do not get me wrong here – I adore sweet basil. After all, I am Italian and I am pretty sure my family would disown me if I did not like it. Thai basil has this amazing, almost spicy punch to it that really kicks your taste buds into high gear. I had to make my twist on summer rolls into a refreshing, light lunch using my find of the day.
There is a lot of debate over the difference between the three Asian style rolls: Egg, Spring and Summer. Let me go ahead and settle it for you (in my world at least). It has less to do with the filling and more to do with the wrapper itself. Egg rolls have thick wrappers that are made with well…egg. Spring rolls wrappers are super thin, made with rice and are filled and deep-fried. Summer rolls are eaten raw and use spring roll wrappers that are softened in a bowl of water. The spring roll wrappers don’t really have a whole lot of taste so much as they are just an amazing delivery system for all the fresh, raw goodness.
In my rolls I used steamed shrimp, and julienne carrots, red cabbage, cucumber and…you guessed it – Thai basil. If you cannot find Thai basil certainly use regular basil. Your will place the dry wrapper in a bowl, soak and then roll. There are plenty of videos online on the best way to roll them. I place the filling in the middle, roll the bottom up, side in and the finish rolling it up. I also made a dipping sauce to go with them.
Post questions and comments below and let me know how yours turned out!
Vietnamese Summer Rolls
-Steamed shrimp that has been chilled (they will usually do it for you at the store if you don’t want to)
-Thinly sliced red cabbage
-Rice/Spring roll wrappers (most wrappers are naturally gluten-free but check if you have an allergy to make sure)
-Soften one wrapper in a bowl or pie plate filled with warm water.
-Place on plate and layer ingredients in center of wrapper.
-Roll and repeat
Store wrapped spring rolls inside a sealed container. I like to place dampened paper towels in between them so they do not stick together.
For the dipping sauce:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 scallions, finely chopped
½ teaspoon Sriracha hot chili sauce (or more if you can handle heat…I cannot)
-Mix all ingredients until combined.
-Store in refrigerator.