Genève’s Kitchen

Genève’s Kitchen header image 2

Rolling into Summer

May 22nd, 2006 · 6 Comments

rolls.jpgI absolutely love summer rolls. If they’re on the menu, I will reliably order them. These light and fun to eat appetizers come in many varieties that often involve the following array of ingredients: shrimp, vermicelli rice noodles, some sort of vegetable, bean sprouts or lettuce, fresh mint or cilantro and my favorite part: the slightly chewy clear fresh rice paper roll that holds the tasty bundle together.

I keep things simple when I make these rolls but you are only limited by your imagination when it comes to creating your own favorite combinations of ingredients here. Adding thin strips of carrots or colorful purple cabbage would be lovely additions to these summer rolls and if you want to keep it veggies only that’s fine too!
Making these treats isn’t difficult but the assembly takes a little bit of effort. Rolling the rice paper roll is the only tricky part but the reward will definitely be worth it!
I’ve taken some cross-cultural liberties with my rendition of summer rolls – I hope that you’ll enjoy the exotic tastes and textures that this appetizer brings.

Shrimp Summer Rolls with Ginger Peanut Dipping Sauce

For the Summer rolls:

  • 12 medium-large sized shrimp (figure about 3 shrimp per roll – adjust according to how many you want per person – I like to buy uncooked frozen deveined shrimp and I keep them in my freezer for whenever I need some – just defrost by placing frozen shrimp in a bowl of water for 20 minutes)
  • 1 Package of Vietnamese spring roll wrappers – rice paper (if you have an asian market in your area that would be a good place to look for these – also check the aisle in the grocery store where you find imported goods too – the package that I use has a red rose on it which I think is a reputable brand – they are also called ‘Banh Trang’)
  • 1 head iceberg lettuce – shredded (meaning after removing outer leaves and washing, cut in half and slice very thinly)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chop about 1/4 C worth and set aside
  • 1 small handful mint, chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 6 pepper corns


1) Fill a medium pot 3/4 full of water and add a few slices of lemon (with rind), pepper corns, and a little bunch of cilantro (the 1/4 C of chopped cilantro will be for the inside of the rolls while the cilantro that is added to the water here is just to flavor the shrimp which we’ll poach in this mixture) – put cover on and turn to high heat. Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat so that the water is simmering (boiling means that the water is at a violent rolling bubble while a simmer is a little rumble – hopefully that makes sense). Add the shrimp at this point – if using previously frozen shrimp they should be defrosted before adding. They will only take a little while to cook – they will turn pink evenly on all sides – that’s how you’ll know that they’re ready. This takes a few minutes. By the way, this process of cooking shrimp in simmering water is called poaching – a very lean way to cook fish, chicken, etc. as there’s no oil or fat required.

2) Prepare the rest of the ingredients for assembling the rolls: chop the mint and cilantro, shred the lettuce, and prepare a shallow baking dish with warm-hot water for dipping the dry rice paper sheets. The rice paper, as you’ll discover, comes hardened and you’ll just need to dip it into very warm water for a few seconds to allow it to soften and become malleable. You’ll do this dipping step only when you’re ready to assemble the rolls and you’ll want to do each one individually. Also, you’ll want to make sure to remove the tails from the cooked shrimp too once they’re cool enough to handle.

3) When you’ve got the shrimp poached with tails removed and all of your ingredients ready to assemble then take a rice paper, dip it in the warm water until it’s softened enough to work with, place it on a plate, place three shrimp in a row along the bottom, add some iceberg lettuce on top and sprinkle some cilantro and mint on top too. Now for the rolling part, you basically want to wrap it as you would a burrito. There is more than one way to do this but to help guide you I found a great site that explains this very well. I promise, getting used to working with the rice paper and finding the best way to roll it is the only tricky part here. As you get used to rolling you’ll also find out the best way to layer ingredients so that they look nice through the translucent rice paper.

    For the dipping sauce:

    • 4-6 Tablespoon water (this is to thin out the sauce, I use 6 for a very runny sauce but if you prefer it a little thicker use less)
    • 1/4 Cup Peanut butter (My favorite kind of peanut butter is the all natural kind so that’s what I used here – there’s no sugar added. If you use the kind of peanut butter that already has sugar added then go light on the brown sugar that I add later or maybe omit that ingredient all together – you’ll have to go by taste…)
    • 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoon Tamari soy sauce, low sodium (use whatever kind of soy sauce that you have on hand)
    • 2 Tablespoon Rice vinegar
    • 1 Teaspoon freshly grated or finely chopped ginger (I got a microplane for Christmas and I LOVE to use it for grating ginger – you’ll find that the ginger blends into the sauce very easily when grated)
    • 1 Teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 Clove garlic finely chopped


    1) I mix all the ingredients together – adding the water last so that I can control for the viscosity. As you’ll see, the peanut butter “melts” when you start stirring it with the soy sauce and other ingredients – stir very well until everything is combined.

      This sauce is also great as a dressing for rice noodle salad, broccoli salad, or even along with with a stir fry….

      Tags: Appetizers · Entertaining · Party Food

      6 responses so far ↓

      • Niklaus // May 23, 2006 at 3:10 am

        Hi Geneve

        You have a very nice and interesting site.
        But now i am very hungry.

        Greetings from switzerland,

      • Ivonne // May 23, 2006 at 11:02 am

        Fantastic, Geneve!

        This is a must-try!

      • cath // May 23, 2006 at 11:13 am

        Geneve — these are some of my favorite rolls to eat. The red rose banh trang that you use is probably the best because it doesn’t fall apart or get too sticky when dipped in water. My mom tells me about a brand with an elephant on it but I have yet to find it.

      • AdamD // Jun 16, 2006 at 7:18 pm

        Truth be told, I didn’t follow the recipe for what I put inside the roll, but the sauce was the boss.

        A couple questions about the paper…

        1) Is there a secret to getting an even absorbtion of water? Mine were a bit spotty, though once they had dried, I didn’t notice at all. Does it need to be even?

        2) How do you store the papers once you’ve opened the package?

      • Geneve // Jun 17, 2006 at 12:36 am

        Hey Adam,
        I’ve noticed the same thing re: paper absorbtion – some areas soften while some spots are still firm. Since this doesn’t seem to have an effect on the end product I don’t worry about it. I find that using a shallow dish that can hold warm water and allow for the entire rice paper sheet to soak at the same time is optimal. I add fresh warm water a few times during the process of making these too because I think that the warm water is more effective at softening the sheets.
        I’m so glad that you like the sauce! How did you like the rolls?
        If you have leftoever sauce it goes really well over sauteed or steamed broccoli.
        As for storing the rice paper sheets – mine came in a plastic package and I just stick the whole thing into a large zip lock. It sits in my cabinet on a shelf with rice and pastas. The stuff has a great shelf-life.

      • Genève’s Kitchen » Blog Archive » Tempeh Each Day Keeps The Doctor Away! // Aug 1, 2006 at 11:26 pm

        [...] It's true that there are lots of healthy benefits to be gained by eating tempeh which, if you're not familiar with the stuff, is made from fermented soybeans.  I always found both tofu and tempeh to be dry, bland, and lacking in flavor but I didn't want this to be the reason that I was depriving my body of such healthy food.  I love to experiment with unfamiliar foods and I love a challenge.  My curiosity helped me to come up with a flavorful way to enjoy tempeh.  I use my ginger peanut dressing that I posted about in Rolling into Summer and I prepare the tempeh by stir-frying it in a little olive oil on the stove to lightly brown all of the sides.  Once browned I remove them from the pan and set aside while I stir-fry some broccoli and edamame (the frozen shelled kind).  I add everything to a bowl, add the dressing and dinner is served! [...]