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Food writer Lou Groccia rolls some summer rolls


Friday, July 13, 2018

Summertime, and the cooking for company is easy.

Speaking of easy, I have finally taught myself how to make halfway decent Asian summer rolls (also called fresh spring rolls).

These rolls use circular rice paper wrappers that you fill with whatever you like.

I found the trick to making them by surfing the web, of course. I watched a couple of videos to learn the technique.

I found it is important to soften them in hot water for 5 or 10 seconds so they become pliable. Then you gently dry them on a kitchen towel.

Then you fill them and roll them just like you would stuffed grape leaves.

I filled them with homemade salmon gravlax that I sliced paper thin and let sit in some fresh-squeezed lime juice.

I also used rice vermicelli, thinly sliced sweet red pepper, thinly sliced avocado, wafer-thin sliced cucumber, thinly sliced carrots, scallions and a scattering of fresh basil, cilantro and mint.

Since I used 8-inch rice papers, I sliced them in half on a diagonal to serve them.

Served them with three dipping sauces: hot ‘n’ sweet Chinese chili, hot Szechuan peanut, and lemongrass/tamarind.

These three sauces also accepted the three types of wood charcoal grilled skewers I served: Yakitori chicken, Korean beef, and firecracker shrimp.

I also served an Asian coleslaw with blistered peanuts. Yes, blistered. peanuts.

You just dry fry some peanuts for a few minutes, tossing the frying pan so they don’t burn, just char slightly. This treatment gives the peanuts a wonderful smoky flavor that pairs well with the lime dressing on the slaw.

Now go forth, speak easy and carry this menu. You won’t be disappointed.

— LOU

A summertime feast. But I gotta say the meal doesn’t sound exactly easy. I know those things can be a bit complicated, because I have made them myself. But as usual do the prep work and you’ll be ready to roll. Get it? Roll. Spring roll. But, considering the time of year, you should call it a summer roll.

—LUCY