I don't know about you, but Vietnamese summer rolls are one of my favorite things to eat...all year long. There is something so refreshing about biting into a summer roll, especially when it has just been made. One of my favorite parts is dipping it in copious amounts of peanut sauce; however, JR is allergic to legumes...so I don't make the sauce at home, I just have it at restaurants.
I was amazed to find out how easy these are to make. Honestly, the hardest part is figuring out how long to soak the rice wraps before using them. You can put basically whatever you want into the rolls. Some things would be harder to wrap than others, so use your good judgment when deciding what to use.
What did I use?
Butter lettuce leaves (I used the living lettuce--I LOVE it!)
Cooked vermicelli noodles
Chopped green onions
Mint leaves (these give it the traditional summer roll taste, so don't leave them out!)
Cooked shrimp (cut in half as shown)
You'll want to cut all the vegetables first and put them in separate containers. It's MUCH easier this way. Although I say you can pick whatever you want to put in them, there are a few staples: mint (trust me, if you've had a summer roll before, this is what you taste), cooked vermicelli (noodles will make up about 1/2 of the contents, give or take), and lettuce leaves (this is important in order to keep vegetables from tearing the rice wrap).
Put a couple inches of water in large bowl or pie plate. Only soak ONE wrap at a time. Just make sure all of the wrap gets wet, soak it 10-15 seconds, and pull it out. Do not wait until the wrap is totally pliable to pull it out of the water--it will be impossible to use. When it comes out of the water, it will still be mostly stiff. Don't worry, it'll continue to soften. At this point, put it on a damp towel/paper towel/whatever on a cutting board or hard surface.
Pile your stuff on the wrap about 2-2.5 inches from the bottom of the wrap. Lettuce on bottom, then noodles, then veggies. Fold the bottom over the vegetables, then fold each side over snugly (think: like wrapping a burrito...you'll still have a relatively wide middle part of the wrap to deal with). Fold the vegetable part over once. At this point I placed (right next to the filled part) a mint leaf, a shrimp half, and another mint leaf. Then roll the rest of it up (just like a burrito). If you want to make them vegetarian, you can put anything in other than shrimp--tofu, a peach slice, a spare tire, whatever.
This is what the finished product looks like. It's not beautiful, but it is incredibly delicious!
Have fun and happy rolling!