Here’s a promise to you.
The most complicated thing I’m going to ask you to do here is chop and fold.
How bout dat?
A summer roll is fixed to be the freshest thing you’ll ever damn taste. It’s a tangle of crisp, crunchy, cool vegetables in an air-light rice wrapper that is not even a fraction as hard as it looks to make.
I mean, there is no cooking involved. Not even a little bit. The closest you get to cooking is boiling the kettle.
I’d be scratching to make these for the longest time having bought rice papers on a whim when shopping in an Asian supermarket. I’d left them in my cupboard, dreaming wistfully of a day I’d muster up the energy to use them.
This was when I believed these summer rolls would be an exercise of patience and precision. I’ve since come to realise they are neither and now I am hooked.
My lovely team in work bought me a Japanese steel knife for my 30th birthday and I had been looking for excuses to put it into full practice. As these rolls are crammed full of finely chopped vegetables, I realised this would be the perfect exercise to welcome my new knife to the pantry family.
So I got to slicing.
This recipe is very, very permissive. You can go nuts with whatever filling you feel, so long as your noodles are soft and your vegetables are thin and crunchy. I paired this up with a creamy peanut based sauce but have also dunked these straight into a sweet chili dip from the bottle. There really is no bad way to eat these noodles.
Boil a kettle.
Drop a nest of vermicelli noodles – sometimes called glass noodles – into a big bowl and cover them with the boiling water. Let them sit for about 5 minutes so that they soften and untangle.
Carefully drain them and then put them back into the now empty bowl and allow them to cool.
While they cool, you can make your peanut dipping sauce.
This is a simple affair consisting of nothing more than combining a heaped tablespoon of smooth peanut butter with a tablespoon of coconut yogurt. To this add the juice of one lime, a few shakes of soy sauce, a quarter of a teaspoon of chilli powder and a grated garlic clove.
Mix this together to create a creamy peanut sauce, adding a tablespoon of water if you’d like it slightly runnier.
Now it’s time to slice up your veg.
The veg you choose is up to you but I went for a quarter of a cucumber, one carrot, a small palm sized piece of red cabbage I had leftover in the fridge and an avocado.
Slice the veg as thin as you can but I keep the avocado slightly chunkier.
To your now cooled bowl of noodles, add a few shakes of soy sauce and a little drizzle of lime juice. Add the sliced veg to the noodles – but not the avocado – and throw in some chopped mint and coriander.
Toss everything together to create a beautiful, messy tangle of vegetables and noodles.
Now it’s time to get rolling.
Fill a wide bowl (although I just go for a frying pan) with warm water and slide a rice wrapper into the water. Let it sit there and soften for about 20 seconds – or whatever your packet tells you to, I won’t be militant – and then lay it down on a tea towel on a chopping board.
Lay a chunky line of avocado slices down the roll before covering it with the noodle mixture.
Fold the top of the wrap over the avocado/noodle mix and then fold the bottom up over it, tucking it in as neatly as you can. Fold in the sides and then flip the whole thing over so that it’s as neatly tucked as it can be.
Your first will never look sexy. It will become MUCH easier the more you do. Give the paper a good tug – it’s a lot more resistant than you’d initially think, I promise.
Plate up. Grab your dipping sauce. Apply them to your face.