Keep it cool. That’s my motto all summer long especially for all things that involve being in the kitchen. While I’m blessed to have AC in my Torinese apartment, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to want to enjoy something super fresh and summery at meal times during these warmer months.
Naturally, most of my go-to summer time dishes include all sorts of salads from leafy greens to beans to even crouton salads (think crunchy panzanella). However, from time to time when I do bore of using a fork to eat my veggies, I opt for handheld summer rolls!
The fabulous thing about summer rolls is that you can essentially add whatever you want inside them. From leftover teriyaki chicken pieces or marinated tofu, zesty kimchi or pickled turnips, fish eggs or crunchy peanuts, the options are endless. I opted for a veggie-dense version with some crab, but you can make them totally vegetarian or vegan if you please. You can even make a fruitarian roll with fruits like mangoes, apples and bananas!
Another awesome thing is that while you can obviously enjoy them fresh, you can also fry these rolls for a crunchy snack. While it’s nice to have the option, I’ll admit that summer rolls kept cold are my favourite way to go!
In fact, it was last summer during the first wave of the pandemic that I was heavily frequenting my asian supermarket and scouring for different treats both to try and to cook with my best friend Rosie. Besides the boba milk teas, we ventured into bao buns and of course, summer rolls served with a side of kewpie mayo!
I must admit that rolling up these bad boys, I thought a lot about last summer’s charcuterie picnics with my pal, late nights watching Sex and the City and sharing cinnamon buns and making my grandparents kitchen the testing lab for all foodie creations, mozzarella included! Ah the pangs of nostalgia...I digress.
Packed with flavour and freshness, this recipe is super easy. The only inconvenience is that the rolls require some prep work in terms of all the slicing and julienning of the veggies. But, with an extra set of hands, the task becomes that much easier and instead of 30 minutes, you can cut your time in half. And everyone knows that when food is on the schedule, everyone will race to make sure that the sooner you can eat, the better!
A big hit for summertime picnics in the park or outdoor lunches when the AC is on the fritz, these summer rolls are going to be on your weekly mealtime rotation for sure. Plus, they look quite impressive when you bring them to a gathering! While your rolling technique might take some time to perfect, you’ve got all summer to master the tight roll!
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* Makes 12 rolls *
12 sheets of rice paper
1 cucumber, quartered and julienned
1 carrot, quartered and julienned
1 avocado, sliced
1 mango, sliced
1 package of imitation crab meat
1 cup seaweed salad
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons water
In a small bowl, combine peanut butter and soy sauce. Once combined, add hot sauce and water. Mix until smooth.
In a large plastic bowl, add cool water. Quickly dunk a sheet of rice paper to soften and lay on a cutting board.
Start assembling your rolls with pieces of cucumber, carrot, avocado, mango, crab and seaweed salad, ensuring ingredients are layered near the base of the rice paper.
Once you’ve finished adding all the ingredients, begin rolling by tucking the left and right corners inward. Once the edges are tucked in, continue rolling forward until you’ve closed your summer roll. Assemble on a plate and repeat the process until you’ve used up all the ingredients.
Dip your rolls into the peanut sauce and enjoy the freshness!