Veggie Summer Rolls with Mint and Thai Basil
by Katie Chin, Tastemaker in Residence
Who doesn’t love biting into cool and refreshing Veggie Summer Rolls with Mint and Thai Basil on a late summer day? And guess what? They are naturally gluten-free and vegan. While Vietnamese in origin, I included a recipe for these Summer Rolls in my Thai Cookbook because of their huge popularity in Thailand as well. The beauty of these Veggie Summer Rolls with Mint and Thai Basil is that you can use any veggies you’d like or even add fruit like mango. For a non-vegetarian version, you could add cooked shrimp or thinly sliced roast beef from your local deli. My vegetarian friends like to add some seasoned baked tofu to these rolls.
I know the thought of making these Veggie Summer Rolls with Mint and Thai Basil for the first time can be daunting especially if you’ve never worked with rice paper wrappers before but once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy. The key is soaking the wrappers in warm water (not hot) for about 30 seconds and then layering them between damp paper towels (which have been wrung out). This way, the wrapper won’t stick to the paper towel or a cutting board.
Bursting with fresh veggies and Thai basil and mint, you feel satisfied and but never weighed down by these yummy and refreshing rolls. The hoisin peanut sauce is really easy to make but you can also serve with store bought peanut sauce or Thai Sweet Chili sauce instead.
Veggie Summer Rolls
Hoisin Peanut Sauce:
½ cup (125 ml) hoisin sauce (gluten-free if preferred)
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp rice vinegar or white vinegar
Crushed roasted peanuts for garnish
2 oz (50 g) dried rice sticks or rice vermicelli
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 package 12-in (30 cm) round rice paper wrappers
1 cup (100 g) fresh bean sprouts, ends trimmed
1 cup (105 g) carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 cup (105 g) English cucumber, julienned
4 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
4 Tbsp fresh basil leaves
8 large or 16 small red leaf lettuce leaves, cut in half lengthwise
Make the sauce: Bring the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, water and vinegar to a boil in a saucepan over moderately high heat. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Garnish the sauce with crushed peanuts. Set aside.
Place the rice sticks in a large bowl. Pour enough hot water over to cover. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Toss with the sesame oil.
Fill a large, flat bowl with warm water, making sure it is large enough to fit the rice paper wrappers. Lay a clean towel on the workspace in front of you. Carefully dip a rice paper wrapper into the water, just to get it wet all over, trying not to crack it. It will still be slightly hard. Remove it from the water and lay it onto a damp paper towel, where it will continue to soften.
Layer a small amount of each of the ingredients on the bottom 1/3 of the wrap. Start with a lettuce leaf, then about 1 tablespoon of bean sprouts, then some noodles, followed by some pieces of carrot and cucumber and then top with 2 leaves of the basil and 2 leaves of the mint. Fold up the bottom 1/3, fold in the sides and roll up the rest of the length to make an egg roll shape. Set aside and continue with the rest of the ingredients until all of the rice paper wrappers are used. Cut rolls in half on a diagonal. Serve with hoisin peanut dipping sauce.