Vietnamese-Style Summer Roll
1 ounce cellophane noodles
rice vinegar to taste
4 sheets rice paper or spring roll wrappers, available at Asian markets
8 or more leaves field greens or other lettuce, thick ribs removed (you may not need all 8, depending on size)
1/4 cup cucumber, cut into matchsticks about an inch long
1/4 cup mango, finely chopped
1/4 cup asparagus, blanched until al dente, a few seconds to a minute (depending on size), and cut into matchsticks about an inch long
8 to 12 smallish boiled shrimp, chilled and slit vertically
4 scallions, cut into inch-long matchsticks
8 to 12 basil leaves, more if you especially like the taste
salt to taste
Note: You may substitute or add other ingredients of your choosing, such as crabmeat, cooked pork, shredded carrot, napa cabbage, cilantro, or mint.
First prepare the noodles by covering them with boiling-hot water for 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve and pat dry. You can toss them with a bit of salt and vinegar if you wish.
To make the summer rolls, put two layers of paper towels on a countertop. Dip each sheet of rice paper in warm water in a shallow pan for about 15 seconds to a minute, until it is pliable. (You can use cold water; it takes a little longer.) Lay the rice paper round on the paper towels and put a single layer of field greens on top of it, leaving the upper half and the edges bare (for ease in rolling). Top the lettuce with a few teaspoons each of cucumber, cellophane noodles, mango, asparagus, shrimp, scallions, and basil. Do not overfill and be careful that the ingredients are arranged so they won’t poke holes in the paper.
Fold the uncovered side flaps over, then roll the rest up like a tortilla, starting at the filled end. To make a pretty roll, you can put the mango pieces in at the very end, so they show through the paper. Wrap the roll in a second sheet of rice paper if you cannot get it to stay closed. Chill at least half an hour before serving.
Ponzu Dipping Sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons rice vinegar or other mild vinegar such as champagne vinegar
sambal oelek hot chile paste to taste (optional), available at Asian markets
These proportions result in a sauce with a strong soy flavor; use less if you want more of a vinegar taste. Mix all ingredients together. For a different sauce, you can mix 2 parts prepared Vietnamese fish sauce (nam pla) with about 1 part fresh lime juice or rice wine vinegar and some thinly sliced scallion and some dried red pepper flakes.
To serve, arrange the spring rolls around a bowl of dipping sauce. Makes 4 rolls.