Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Fresh summer supper

Finally we have some sunshine to enjoy here in London and the city folk were out in force this lunchtime soaking up some rays.

I love the heat, probably more than most, but I still find it can get unpleasantly muggy and I look forward to changing out of my suit to some shorts and a vest top when I get home. I also find that hot food doesn't appeal at all and neither does spending any length of time cooking over a hot stove.

What's called for is light tasty cuisine that's quick to prepare. Luckily for me hot Doc has introduced me to the delights of Vietnamese cooking - fresh, very low fat and delicious - I'm totally sold on it, especially when he's doing the cooking!

Here's a great recipe he found for fresh tasting Vietnamese summer rolls with chilli lime dipping sauce - delish!

Taken from:
Give yourself plenty of time (and counter space) to make these. And be sure to have a few extra rice paper wrappers on hand—it may take a few tries before you're rolling like a pro.

What to buy: Look for medium-size shrimp. Rice sticks and rice paper wrappers can be found in most Asian grocery stores. For the wrappers, we like the Red Rose brand.

Game plan: Be sure to have all your ingredients ready and easily accessible when you start to roll. Store the summer rolls in a dish or plastic container that's roomy enough to hold them without their touching. Place a damp paper towel in the bottom of the container to keep the rolls moist. Cover tightly with plastic wrap.

* 12 medium shrimp in their shells
* 2 ounces dried "rice sticks or rice vermicelli"
* 8 (8-1/4-inch) round "rice paper pancakes"
* 1/2 cup mung bean sprouts, rinsed (we left these out)
* 24 small mint leaves (from 1 small bunch)
* 16 basil or Thai basil leaves
* 8 small parslay sprigs
* 1 Thai hot pepper, serrano pepper, or other small hot chile pepper, seeds removed and sliced into matchsticks
* 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/4-by-1/4-by-2-inch sticks
* 2 large onions, trimmed, halved, and sliced into 3-inch lengths
* 4 lettuce leaves, cut in half


1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, or until they are bright orange and just cooked. Drain shrimp in a colander and run under cold water until they are cool. Peel and halve shrimp lengthwise down the center. Cover and refrigerate.

2. Cook the rice noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Clear a work surface such as a large wooden cutting board for rolling the summer rolls, and prepare a pan that is roomy enough to hold the finished rolls in a single layer. Place all filling ingredients in separate containers and arrange them in the following order around the work surface: rice paper wrappers, shrimp, rice noodles, bean sprouts, mint, basil, parslay, hot pepper, cucumber, scallions, and lettuce.

4. Fill a wide, shallow dish large enough to hold the rice paper wrappers with hot water. Evenly submerge one wrapper for about 30 seconds, or until it is soft and pliable. Remove from the water and place on the work surface.

5. Working quickly, lay 3 shrimp halves in a row, cut side up, just above the center of the wrapper. Layer a scant 1/4 cup of the rice noodles over the shrimp, followed by a few bean sprouts, 3 mint leaves, 2 basil leaves, 1 sprig of cilantro, and 2 pieces of hot pepper. Place 3 to 4 cucumber sticks and 3 to 4 scallion pieces on either side of the noodle pile. Roll one piece of lettuce into a cigar shape and place it on top of the noodle pile.

6. Fold the bottom half of the rice paper wrapper over the filling. Holding it firmly in place, fold the sides of the wrapper in. Then, pressing firmly down to hold the folds in place, roll the entire pile up to close the top. (Don't despair, this takes some practice - the trick is not to overfill the rolls!)

7. Turn each roll so that the rice paper seam faces downward and the row of shrimp faces up. Place in the prepared container.

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce, adapted from

1 tbsp fructose (replacing 2 tbsp brown sugar) 
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/3 cup (80ml) lime juice
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

For the nuoc cham, stir the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice in a bowl to dissolve the sugar, then stir in chilli and garlic. Set aside until the rolls are ready to serve.


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