These summer rolls are actually a marriage of Vietnamese and Thai summer rolls. What makes them summer rolls is the inclusion of fresh vegetables, and the fact that they are not fried. They include carrots, cucumber, scallions, lettuce, cilantro, Thai basil, and, of course, rice noodles. This version uses chicken rather than shrimp, but you could certainly use shrimp if you prefer. You can use either chicken breast (cut into thin strips) or ground chicken. I used ground chicken. This recipe makes 10 summer rolls which get cut into thirds, so you end up with 30 appetizer size pieces. You can adapt to make a smaller batch. This recipe is not difficult, but, quite honestly, it is a bit tedious and time consuming. It took me about 1.5 hours to make the 10 rolls (30 pieces). You can cut recipe in 1/2 or less.
- 10 Round Rice Paper Sheets (8-9 inches)*
- 1 lb. Ground Chicken
- 1/3 Cup Honey
- 4 TBS. Fish Sauce**
- Juice of 1 Lime
- 2 TBS. Chili Paste (Sambal Oelek is a popular brand)*
- 4-5 Oz. Dried Rice Noodles (sometimes called rice sticks) – thin, vermicelli or angel hair size
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Thai Basil- chopped (can substitute regular basil)**
- 3/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro – chopped
- 1 1/2 Cup Lettuce (Romaine or Leaf)- chopped
- 1/2 Cup Carrots – cut into very thin strips (you can buy packaged “shredded” carrots)
- 5 Scallions (green parts only) – thinly sliced (matchstick size)
- 1/2 English Cucumber – peeled, seeded and thinly sliced (matchstick size)
* Often available at regular grocery stores in the “Ethnic food” aisle.
**Available at specialty Asian grocery stores – particulary Thai or Vietnamese
For the Dipping Sauce:
- 1/2 Cup Fresh Lime Juice (4-6 Limes)
- 1/4 Cup Sugar
- 3 TBS. Fish Sauce*
- 1 TBS. Rice Wine Vinegar (unseasoned)
- 1 TBS. Fresh Cilantro – finely chopped
- 2 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped
- 1-2 tsp. Jalapeno (seeds and membranes removed) – very finely chopped
Combine all ingredients until sugar is disolved and ingredients are well blended. Serve with Summer rolls – mix again before serving.
Soak the Rice noodles in water as directions indicate (usually 30 minutes). Prepare the marinade by combining honey, fish sauce, lime juice, and chili paste. Add ground chicken to marinade and mix (with hands) until well combined. Because the chicken is ground, it doesn’t need to marinate long – let it sit while you prep other ingredients and make sauce. Saute the marinated chicken until thoroughly cooked. Drain off marinade. Soak one sheet of rice paper in water until softened (30-60 seconds). Remove from water and place on prep area (I recommend using a cutting board). Beginning about 1/3 of the way from the bottom, lay about 1/2 inch of ground chicken across rice paper leaving about 1 inch free on each side. Top chicken with a few strips of carrot, cucumber, and scallion. Add a single layer of chopped cilantro and basil and another layer of chopped lettuce. Add softened rice noodles to the top – or the top edge if they won’t stay on top- cutting noodles so that they fit. Starting at the bottom, roll the rice paper over the filling – pulling as tightly as possible. Once you have rolled the bottom over the filling, fold in the two side edges – continue to wrap until completely rolled. Cut roll into thirds. Repeat process with remaining rice paper sheets. Serve with chilled or at room temperature with dipping sauce.