We want to eat light in the summer and there’s no better way to do so than a roll of its namesake. Rice paper rolls or Gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese from where the dish emanates traditionally consists of pork, prawn, vegetables, bún (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in wet Vietnamese bánh tráng rice paper). They are served at room temperature (or cooled) and are not deep fried or cooked on the outside. TGHG executive chef Bradley Herron first fell in love with Vietnamese food when he took a trip to Vietnam in 2005.
“The summer roll is Vietnamese cuisine in a nutshell. The key is the balance of crisp vegetables and herbs with the really intense, umami flavors of the protein and then the soft, chewy texture of the rice noodles. They’re not really a pain in the ass to make, it’s just a little challenging when you have a busy restaurant,” Brad explains. “I make them at home all the time. My go-to mix protein wise, it’s whatever. Leftover burgers, slice it up, warm it up under the broiler or sautée pan to crisp it up. I always roast a chicken at home for the family, so you can pull the leftovers. Shrimp paste is the best. You Robot Coupe raw shrimp with fish sauce and cane sugar, scallions… Set logs of it over the charcoal grill and just slice them up!”
Brad explains the trick to rehydrating the rice paper discs is room temperature water. You’re not soaking it… It’s more of a dip and wiggle, then put the textured side up on the cutting board so that the smooth side is on the outside when you roll.
“I went to the village where they make them,” Brad continues. “You see all these shacks with little ladies squatted over steaming vats covered in canvas. They spread the rice mixture over like a crepe and then dry them on bamboo mats. That’s where the texture comes from.”
These steamy months in South Florida recall the Vietnamese climate. So make some summer rolls, dip in nước chấm and enjoy it! The recipe below incorporates mango but you can do any mix of protein or vegetarian fillings if you want. Maybe even try a mix of green and ripe mango. Lychee and lump crab is a winning Schwartz combination, too.
Shrimp and Mango Summer Rolls
1 package cellophane noodles
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
16 (8 inch) rich paper rounds
1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup basil leaves
½ cup picked cilantro
1 pound cooked small shrimp
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 large mango, peeled & thinly sliced
Nuoc Cham for dipping (recipe below)
In a large bowl, cover noodles with boiling water and soak 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry, ad season with rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Place a cloth napkin on a work surface. Fill a shallow baking pan with warm water. Submerge a rice paper sheet in the water for 10 seconds, and place on the towel. Repeat with another rice paper and then place just below the first one, overlapping by half. Arrange a piece of lettuce on the rice papers toward the bottom, leaving a 1-inch border on each side. Arrange some mint leaves, basil, cilantro, an eight of the shrimp, shredded carrot, bean sprouts, small amount of noodles, and a small amount of the mango slices. Starting with the bottom, fold over the mixture and fold in the sides. Roll it up, slightly pulling toward you to create a tight “burrito.” Place on a platter and cover with a dampened paper towel. Continue rolling until all 8 rolls are complete. Cut each roll in half or thirds and serve on a plate with a small dish of sauce.
Makes one cup
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Combine all ingredients in a bowl with 2 tablespoons water; mix until combined and serve.