On a trip to Vietnam years ago, I fell in love with summer rolls, which pack a bounty of flavor in every bite. The rolls go by different names, from salad rolls to spring rolls to the Japanese interpretation, raw spring rolls. They’re typically served at room temperature – never fried – with a dipping sauce.
I’ve given standard spring rolls a twist by using buckwheat soba in place of traditional rice noodles and by adding cashews for extra crunch. Paired with a spicy, zesty nam chim (Thai for “dipping sauce”), these summer rolls are perfect for picnics and backyard barbecues.
SUMMER ROLLS WITH THAI NAM CHIM
Thai Nam Chim
- ½ cup fish sauce
- ½ cup fresh lime juice
- ½ cup superfine sugar
- 1 Tbsp sambal oelek
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 8-inch round rice-paper wrappers
- 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 beet, peeled and grated
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 avocado, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 8 oz buckwheat soba, cooked
- ½ cup salted cashews, chopped
- 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
Preparation – Thai Nam Chim Sauce | In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until sugar has dissolved. Serve at room temperature. Set aside.
Preparation – Summer Rolls | Fill a large baking dish with warm water; dip a rice-paper wrapper into water, and completely submerge for 30 seconds. Remove wrapper on a clean, flat surface, and stack a few slices each of bell pepper, carrot, beet, cucumber, avocado, cilantro, Thai basil and mint on the bottom third of the wrapper. Top with a small handful of cooked soba and a sprinkle of nuts and black sesame seeds.
Fold bottom of wrapper over filling ingredients, and roll over to form a cylinder. Fold in both sides of the cylinder tightly to seal roll. Continue folding over until it resembles a burrito. Repeat until all rice-paper wrappers and filling ingredients have been used. Cut rolls in halves or thirds, and serve with dipping sauce. Cover with a damp paper towel if not serving immediately.
Amanda Elliott is the chef at Peachtree Catering (peachtreebanquet.com) in Columbia, Missouri, and authors the website Rustic Supper (rusticsupper.com), where she shares recipes centered on the idea of the communal table and embracing the heritage of food through travel. She also hosts a series of pop-up dinners in Columbia called Sunday Suppers.