If I could jet off anywhere in the world I think near the top of my list of destinations would be Vietnam. I’d love to ride a scooter around Ho Chi Minh City and take a boat trip around Ha Long Bay. Unfortunately it’s going to be a long time until I can realise my dream so I’m making do by trying my hand at Vietnamese style cooking. This week I’ve been preparing lots of summer or salad rolls for my lunches; they are not only delicious but light, healthy and refreshing: perfect for a hot, muggy day. You can use any vegetables you fancy to make up the little bundles of salad wrapped in delicate rice paper but something raw and crunchy is preferable along with fresh herbs. You can also add meat such as spicy roast chicken and shredded pork, prawns or even tofu or nuts for a protein boost.
These salad rolls are a riot of colour that appeals to the eye and the tummy. Cucumber, mange tout and carrot make up the bulk of the roll and provide a sound crunch. For extra flavour I included slivers of spring onions, ripe mango, coriander and tangy baby sorrel leaves picked from my veggie patch. A small amount of roasted chicken rounded out the rolls to make a tasty and satisfying meal. I like to make a dipping sauce for extra flavour and fun (I’m easily pleased), in this case a spicy peanut sauce made from store cupboard ingredients.
The rice paper wrappers can be a little hard to find here in Devon but fortunately my local Asian store, a mere half mile from my door, stock them. After a brief soak in warm water the wrappers become soft and pliable, as you fold them round the filling they seal themselves so you don’t get in a mess eating them. Summer rolls are best eaten fresh but if you put them together in the morning and pack them in an air-tight box they’ll still be moist come lunchtime.
Summer salad rolls
Makes 6 rolls
6 rice paper wrappers
Half a cucumber
A handful of mange tout
3 spring onions
A handful of baby sorrel leaves
Half a ripe mango
150g roast chicken
6 sprigs of coriander
For the sauce:
4 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
First prep all your filling ingredients by cutting them into fine julienne and shredding the chicken.
Fill a large dish with warm water, dip one wrapper into the water and soak for 30 seconds until soft. Place on a clean surface such as a smooth chopping board or the worktop.
Arrange a small bundle of filling ingredients in a vertical line down the middle of the wrapper leaving 2cm space top and bottom.
Fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the filling then fold in the sides to form a roll.
To make the sauce mix the peanut butter, chilli and soy sauce then add lime juice and water to taste until you have a runny sauce.