Editor’s Note: What’s New in My Kitchen Wednesdays, is a weekly post where we weave a personal story with a review of a beloved or new “item” in our kitchen, in our glass or on our plate. Alexis was inspired by the sight of rice paper spring roll wrappers in the grocery store. -Christina
There is a small Vietnamese restaurant in New York City’ Chinatown that is discreetly hidden in the curve of a small side street and with very little signage alerting outsiders of its presence. Inside, breaking through the odors of cleaning solution and raw meats is the delicious smell of Vietnamese soups and sauces. The prices are low, but the experience is exotic. When I used to frequent this restaurant, my favorite dish was the summer rolls, which were served with fresh leaves of lettuce, basil and mint and after you wrapped these garnishes around the roll you dipped the whole thing in a slightly spicey, peanut-ty sauce. I haven’t been there in years, but I think of this dish often and decided it was time for me to try making my own version of summer rolls.
What’s new in my kitchen this month is rice paper spring roll wrappers.
Summer rolls are fun to eat, but they are also fun to make. Their translucent skin provides an intriguing glimpse at its fillings and the final product is nice to look at. I think what makes them summer rolls, rather than spring rolls, is that they are not cooked and served cold. A few weeks ago I saw summer roll wrappers in the grocery store (turns out you can buy them almost anywhere) and I was inspired. They sat in my pantry until this weekend when I decided to begin the experiment. The ingredients I chose are listed below, but there are a ton of online recipes (as well as videos, which could be helpful if you’re struggling with rolling).
- grated carrots
- chopped scallions
- spaghetti (cooked and cut in to 1-2 inch lengths)
- leftover roasted chicken cut in to small pieces
- thinly-shaved cabbage (I used my mandolin!)
I laid the ingredients out in front of me, with a bowl of warm water and a towel. I submerged the rice paper in to the water for about a half minute until it was softened and then laid it out on the towel. I placed the ingredients (in the order they are listed above) in the middle of the rice paper and then wrapped the paper around it like you would a burrito. Make sure to tuck it in tight as you roll, since these are better if the rice paper isn’t all floppy. I made a dipping sauce from the ingredients shown in the photo below.
I didn’t have large leaf lettuce, basil or mint to serve my summer rolls with, but the dipping sauce was fun and the overall flavor experience was very tasty!