recreate what we ate: summer rolls & asian slaw

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i mentioned two weeks ago that S and i have begun composing a list of recipes to recreate together. given our mutual love for alton brown and most everything else associated with the food network, the list has become quite extensive already. among the entries thus far are two dishes representative of asian cuisine -vietnamese-style summer rolls with peanut sauce and an asian cabbage mango slaw.

so with a sunday afternoon at our disposal, we camped out in the international foods aisle at sprouts to gather our vast list of ingredients and returned home to embark on a journey to the orient (the best thing is we didn’t even have to find our passports!).

so if you’re craving some asian cuisine (and don’t feel like standing over a hot wok in these humid summer temps), i highly recommend you satisfy that hankering with these two recipes. aside from the laundry list of ingredients, they are both relatively easy to assemble and fairly figure-friendly. added bonus? you feel like a freaking professional chef rolling your own spring rolls.

watch out bobby flay, we’re coming for ya.

p.s. from this point forward “recreate what ate” will now be renamed as “recreate what we ate.” because kind of like life in general, culinary adventures are better with a sous chef.


vietnamese-style summer rolls with peanut sauce (adapted from chow)

the best thing about these is that the list of ingredients of which to stuff them can be personalized to the palette of the diner. we used shrimp as our protein, but you could just as easily substitute chicken or tofu if you were going the vegetarian route. as far as veggies go, the possibilities are endless. we tried to find bibb lettuce for a little green/crunch but they were unfortunately out at the store, so we settled on using up the leftover cabbage and carrots from the asian slaw salad.

for peanut sauce (sorry B):
3/4 c. natural-style creamy peanut butter (we used sprouts’ brand)
1/3 c. water
3 tbs. hoisin sauce
2 tbs. freshly squeeze lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 tsp. soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free)
1 tbs. granulated sugar (we used two stevia packets!)
2 1/4 tsp. chile-garlic paste
1 med. garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
*we used a little extra water to dilute the sauce as it tends to be quite thick

for summer rolls (makes 16):
24 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peel & devained (quick tip: use trader joe’s frozen pre-cooked shrimp!)
4 oz. dried rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
16 (8 1/2 in.) round rice paper wrappers

suggested filling:
1 c. mung bean sprouts
32 med. fresh mint leaves (from about 1 bunch)
32 fresh basil or thai basil leaves
16 sm. fresh cilantro sprigs
1 med. english cucumber, peeled & cut into 1/4 in. X 2 1/2 in. sticks
3 med. scallions, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 2 1/2 in. pieces
8 bibb lettuce leaves, cut in half

what we used (improvisation at its finest!):
leftover shredded cabbage & shredded carrots
garbanzo beans (inspired by a beautiful mess blog)
rice noodles
cilantro sprigs

for peanut sauce*:
whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. *this step can be done the day before if you’re in a time crunch.

for the summer rolls:
bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. add the shrimp and cook until bright pink and just opaque, about 1 1/2 minutes. drain over a colander and run under cold water until cool. pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board. or if you’re using pre-cooked frozen shrimp, simply defrost in a pot of warm water.

cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. drain and set aside.

place all of the ingredients in separate containers and arrange them in the following order around a work surface: rice paper wrappers, shrimp, rice noodles, fillers of choice.

place a clean, damp kitchen towel on a work surface. fill a medium frying pan or wide, shallow dish (we used a pie plate) large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot tap water. working with one wrapper at a time, completely submerge the wrapper until it is soft and pliable, about 15 seconds. remove the wrapper from the water and place it on the towel (we used a clean cutting board).

working quickly, lay shrimp, rice noodles, and other desired fillings in the center of the wrapper. we found it best to lay down the shrimp (or other protein) first, then layer the lighter selections on top of that.

fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. holding the whole thing firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. then, pressing firmly down to the hold the folds in place, roll the entire wrapper horizontally up from the bottom to the top. do this as gingerly as possible, those rice wrappers are pretty delicate!

turn the roll so that the seam faces down and the row of shrimp faces up. place it on a plate or serving dish. repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. make sure to leave a space between each roll so they don’t stick together. if not serving immediately, keep the summer rolls tightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature for up to two hours.

serve with the peanut sauce for dipping!

now for the perfect light, sweet & savory side dish…

asian cabbage mango slaw (adapted from skinnytaste)

2 c. shredded cabbage
1/2 c. shredded carrots
(both of these items can be purchased pre-shredded at trader joe’s)
1 mango
3 med. scallions, chopped
3 tbs. rice vinegar
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tbs. low sodium soy sauce (or tamari)
1 tbs. sesame oil
1 tsp. sesame seeds

julienne the mango (cut into strips). combine with the cabbage, carrots, scallions and toss together in a large bowl.

prepare the dressing by whisking together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and lime juice; slowly whisk in the oil.

pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. let it sit about 15-20 minutes to allow the dressing to soak in.

serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.


summer rolls & asian slaw

  • Aunt Teresa
    August 12, 2014

    Oh sweetie… that looks so tasty. I’m a very lazy cook so there are too many ingredients on that list. I almost fell asleep just reading through them. I love your adventure… I love that you found somebody in which to share your adventure. Keep posting those yummy foods you’re recreating. I’m licking my screen. (My mom was in the kitchen ALL the time… bless her heart. She prepared delicious and nutritious meals for which I was never appreciative enough. When I became a single mom I mastered the one-pot, 15-minute meals. Not fancy but the habit stuck. If I could get away with eating out of the pot [to save time and dishes] then I’d incorporate that into meal time.] Enjoy your day.

  • Shane
    June 18, 2019

    Yummy! I can’t wait to try this! Thanks for sharing!

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