Summer rolls are a dish from Vietnam. Traditionally they come filled with rice noodles, mint and meat. They’re not fried like spring rolls, making them super light and refreshing for the warmer summer months. Families typically enjoy eating these at home, with large groups of people – making them perfect for bringing a twist to barbecue season. According to Bun Mi Grill, it’s quite tricky to trace the history of rice paper rolls. Legend has it that Emperor Quang Trung of Vietnam ordered his men to rest in hammocks on a rotation, so the ones carrying the others had to eat while on the move. Enter summer ‘salad’ rolls! Who knows if it’s true, but it’s a nice story.
Tofu is a classic alternative to meat and it’s also fairly light, so it was the perfect option to add to our summer rolls recipe. It’s always fun to experiment, and while mint is a classic we found that basil really compliments the flavours from the fresh vegetables. The best thing about this recipe is that the peanut sauce is perfect as both a dipping sauce and a marinade for the tofu filling. I hope you love this recipe – it’s a challenge to get used to rolling the rice paper but mastering it feels amazing & they taste absolutely incredible.
Makes about 15 summer rolls.
For the rolls –
- Rice noodles (two nests)
- 200g tofu (half an average pack)
- Half a cucumber
- 2 carrots
- Lettuce or Pak Choi
- Fresh basil
- 1 red pepper
- 4 radishes
For the peanut sauce –
- 4.5 tbspns peanut butter
- 6 tbspns soy sauce
- 4.5 tbspns agave syrup
- 2 tsps chilli flakes
- 4.5 tbspns Coconut cream (found in coconut milk)
- Boil the rice noodles for a few minutes, and then set to one side for later. It’s very easy to over-do rice noodles so be sure to keep a close eye on them, otherwise they can easily turn to mush.
- Prep the peanut sauce. Coconut cream is found at the top of most tins of coconut milk – it’s lovely and thick. Add all the peanut butter and coconut cream, followed by the chilli flakes, agave syrup and soy sauce to a bowl. Give everything a stir until combined. If the mixture seems a little thick, pop the sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds. Set aside half the mixture to be the dipping sauce, and the other half for the tofu marinade.
- Preheat the oven to 200c. For best results the tofu can be pressed for a few hours or overnight, but it’s still delicious if simply patted dry before cooking. Slice the block of tofu in half, and then into strips. Using a fork and your fingers, coat the tofu strips in the peanut sauce. Place each piece on a sheet of foil on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the tofu cooks, prep the vegetables. The summer rolls are packed with loads of ingredients, so for best results I recommend the julienne method for cutting the veggies to make them as thin as possible. Julienne half a cucumber, two carrots and one red pepper. Tear the lettuce or pak choi leaves into halves, and have some fresh basil leaves removed from the stems, ready to go. Slice the radishes into thin discs.
- Make sure the tofu and rice noodles have cooled. The summer rolls are ready to be assembled. Ensure all ingredients are accessible, as there’s a small window in which to assemble the fillings.
- Use a chopping board or any surface you can easily rinse with water. Run cold water over your chopping board, as this will help to keep the rice paper pliable. Set a bowl of cold tap water to one side.
- Dip a sheet of rice paper into the bowl of cold water – don’t linger too long as the rice paper continues to absorb the water after it’s been submerged.
- Place the wet and softened rice paper sheet on the wet surface and begin filling with the ingredients. I recommend: basil leaves first, followed by radishes, then a few strips of the julienned vegetables. Place a piece of lettuce leaf, fill it with more vegetables (carrot, cucumber and pepper), then top off with a slice of peanut tofu and a small helping of rice noodles. I recommend piling the ingredients high, rather than wide because you need to ‘burrito’ the rice paper in order to fold it. Push the fillings down with your fingers as you roll the rice paper, folding the sides in as you go (like a burrito), until the edges of the paper meet and stick together to form a roll.
- Repeat step eight until you’ve made all your summer rolls! They take a little bit of practice to get right. Most packs of rice paper come with well over 30 pieces, so there’s more than enough for practicing.
- Serve with the peanut dipping sauce, as a main course for two or as sides for a larger group, alongside other dishes.
I hope you enjoy giving these a go! I found the first couple of attempts to be really fiddly, but once you get into a rhythm they’re quite fun to make. You’ll be amazed by how filling these rolls are too, especially with the super rich peanut dipping sauce. Enjoy!