Summer rolls are those delightful paper-thin rice disks that you dip in warm water to soften (no cooking!), fill with virtually anything you like, roll and dip in the sauce of your choice: I love the suggested Thai dipping sauce, but you could use Teryaki sauce, or even a mixture of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce and nothing more. Seeing the filling through the translucent skins makes it even more fun. It would be alright to make them earlier in the day and bring them to room temperature at serving time, maybe even a day before, just as long as you don’t let the rolls touch, or they might get stuck.
Use your imagination and personal preference and use any filling you like, always keeping the selection short and to the point: rice noodles (soak in hot water, drain and cut smaller with scissors), diced cooked or smoked chicken, grated carrots, julienned snow peas, thinly sliced nappa cabbage, finely shredded kale, seaweed pre-soaked in hot water, chopped peanuts, etc….
Don’t let the fragile looking disks daunt you: You might ruin and have to discard a couple before you get the hang of it, but you will have fun learning and rolling, right on the job!
1 romaine heart or small nappa cabbage, shredded thin, about 2 cups packed
2 cups shitaki mushrooms, caps only, sliced thin, packed
1 pound mock crab, finely flaked (use your hands)
2 ribs celery, peeled and sliced very thin
4 scallions, sliced very thin
20 rice paper leaves
Keep a pot of water barely simmering on a low flame.
Mix all but last ingredient in a bowl.
Dip one rice paper leaf in the warm water just a few seconds, turning it on all sides, until it is pliable, not a second longer. Place the leaf on a cutting board. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the mixture in the center. Roll the leaf tightly, bringing the sides into the center and rolling all the way up. Place on a platter. Repeat with the remaining leaves and mixture. Be sure the rolls are not touching (Spray the finished rolls with vegetable spray as an extra precaution) Serve at room temperature with the Thai dipping sauce (recipe follows). About 2-3 rolls per guest.
Lapsang Souchong is a funky smoky Chinese tea you will love or hate to drink on its own, but will always love combined with other ingredients to produce smoky sauces and marinades.
Peanut butter is intensely flavored, a little goes a long way and combines beautifully with the other stars: Lemongrass, coconut milk, cilantro. Wonderful as a dipping sauce, or as the sauce for cold sesame noodles.
1 cup strong Lapsang Souchong tea (1 tea bag steeped in 1/2 cup boiling water) settle for Earl Grey tea
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2-inch piece ginger
1 stalk lemongrass, 2-3 outer leaves removed, or 2 tablespoons powder
2-3 tablespoons bottled hot sauce
4 scallions, sliced
6 sprigs cilantro, stems discarded
Cream the first set of ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in the scallions and cilantro. Transfer to a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.