The only thing that made me slightly hesitate about renting our new apartment back in July was the fact that it had no air conditioning. Now if you’ve ever lived in Melbourne (or anywhere in Australia) you’ll already know that it can get pretty hot around these parts in the summer (with some days reaching 40+ degrees), which is why renting an apartment with minimal shade and no air conditioning could seem like a bit of silly idea. But what can I say? It was a nice place, it was reasonably priced and it had a cute rooftop terrace! Also, it was the middle of winter when we decided to move in so by that point I had almost forgotten about just how hot it gets in the summer here…
Then, last week I got a little reminder of what’s to come and well, let’s just say that a portable air conditioner has moved right to the top of my Christmas list. It was ‘only’ 33 degrees on Friday and I was already roasting in our
sauna sunny living room, lying on the couch like a clam.
When Mark half-jokingly suggested we make roast lamb for dinner I swiftly replied that there was no way we would be using the oven that day. What we needed was a nice cold dish, which is when the idea for these delicious spring rolls came into play. Filled with refreshing mint, crunchy vegetables, shrimp and cold noodles they were the perfect dish to have for dinner that night. Cooling and oh.so.good.
So I guess that’s what we’ll be eating for the rest of the year.
Hmmm, I think we might need to buy an outdoor BBQ too…
Vietnamese Fresh Spring rolls (also known as summer rolls)
Ingredients (makes 8 spring rolls)
For the spring rolls
200g rice vermicelli
24 small shrimp, cooked and peeled (or only 16 if using larger shrimp)
8 rice paper wrappers
1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
For the dipping sauce
1/4 cup water
3 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs lime juice
2 tbs sugar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small red chili, finely chopped
Yummy idea: add fresh coriander and Thai basil to the filling. You could also add slices of cooked pork.
Shortcut: Buy ready-made dipping sauce from an Asian supermarket
♥ Prepare your dipping sauce by mixing all of the ingredients into a small bowl. Set aside.
♥ Cook the vermicelli noodles as per the package’s instructions and then rinse them well under cold water. Drain and set aside.
♥ Set up a little ‘assembly line’ by placing the chopped vegetables, cooked vermicelli, the wrappers, and shrimp on one side of your cooking bench and a large shallow dish filled with warm water on the other side.Then place a large wooden cutting board in the middle in front of you. If you don’t have a big enough board then simply use a damp clean tea towel instead.
♥ Dip a sheet of rice paper in the warm water for about 3-5 seconds to slightly soften it. Then lay it flat on the tea towel.
♥ Place the filling in the lower center of the rice paper. I like to start with three pieces of shrimp, before adding some lettuce, vermicelli, carrot, cucumber and mint. However, feel free to do it in whichever order you’d prefer! Try to distribute the ingredients as evenly as possible to ensure an even spring roll.
♥ To wrap the spring rolls (see pics below): start by folding the top corner of the rice paper over the filling, making sure that the ingredients are tightly tucked in underneath. Then fold the left corner of the wrapper towards the center, followed by the right corner, to close the ends of the spring roll. Then carefully roll up the spring roll, making sure to keep the ingredients tightly tucked in as you go. It might take you a few tries to perfect your ‘rolling skills’ but don’t worry, an uneven spring roll still tastes delicious!:)
♥ Serve the spring rolls on a platter alongside the dipping sauce.
ps. please note there are many different ways to roll a spring roll – this is simply my preferred method!