Though I love ordering them at restaurants, for years I have been too intimidated by summer rolls to try to make them myself. The whole wrapping/dipping sauce thing had me convinced that they were much too complicated. However, the other day at the grocery store I spotted some rice paper wrappers while buying fish sauce (a new staple in my apartment) and decided to give it a try. Though the first one I made was a little wonky, to my surprise I quickly got the hang of it and they weren't too hard to master. A perfect appetizer before Pad Thai, or you could do what A. and I did and just have them for dinner. Vegetable Spring Rolls (adapted from Food & Wine and Tyler's Ultimate)
For chile dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 small red chile, thinly sliced
For peanut dipping sauce:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
3 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 tablespoons water
3 oz vermicelli
12 rice paper wrappers
3 large carrots, cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 cucumber, cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 avocado, thinly sliced
4 oz tofu, cut into thin slices
Small handful basil, julienned
Whisk all ingredients for chile dipping sauce together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic, scallions, ginger, and red pepper flakes until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, peanut butter, and water until peanut butter melts. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
Place vermicelli noodles in a medium bowl. Pour boiling water over, and let soak until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
Working in batches of two, soak rice paper wrappers in a shallow bowl of water for 5 seconds. Let soften for 30 seconds, then place a little bit each of rice noodles, carrots, cucumber, tofu, basil and 1 slice avocado on top. Fold up sides of wrapper and roll until sides close (it's kind of like making a burrito). Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately with dipping sauces.