Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

This is really one of my all time foods that I go back to again and again. You can fill a summer roll with any meat you want and some veg. Using a truly great dipping sauce is what makes the dish. There are two versions of a dipping sauce that I grew up using. One is a sweetened fish sauce based sauce and the other is a peanut hoisin sauce. Today I’ll be showing how to do the peanut hoisin sauce.

Here is thogg showing off his madd summer roll makin skills. Yeah, it is really messy, but you get the idea of the kinds of things that go in it. We used my home made cha gio (cha zah) or vietnames spring roll. I only make these about once a year and then keep them in the freezer. When I make another batch, I promise to post.

Rolling them tighter gives you a roll that is less likely to fall apart when dipping.

What you’ll need:
-Assorted greens – washed and spun dry: salad, cilantro, basil, chives, microgreens, spinach etc.
-One english cucumber – washed, and sliced into spears
-Rice paper rolls (Picture below)
-Summer rolls (I used my home made cha gio but trader joes has some thai inspired ones that work really well)
-OR other meat: cooked shrimp, grilled chicken, etc: (just make sure it isn’t overly wet or the rice paper will break)
-cooked noodles (picture below) – I used bean thread but it is more traditional to use rice vermicelli

What you’ll need for the sauce:
-olive oil or other cooking oil
-2 to 3 garlic cloves per every two people being served: sliced thin
-Jiff extra crunchy peanut butter (yeah I know, it is a terrible brand but it really makes the best sauce, we keep it around JUST for this sauce)
-Hoisin (recommended brand picture below)
-1 Tbs corn starch
-Soy Sauce (recommended brand picture below)

1) Put the crispy spring rolls in a oven preheated to 450 degrees. Leave them in there for about 7 minutes and check to make sure they’re starting to crisp. They will crisp a bit more after they leave the oven, so don’t let them burn. I haven’t tried a lot of brands, but I know the Trader Joes coconut chicken and lemon grass chicken ones both crisp pretty well. DO NOT use chinese egg rolls. The ones you buy at the store are usually soggy, and full of fat and don’t give a good mouth feel inside the spring roll. If you chose to use other cooked meats, you might want to get a package of won ton wrappers, brush them or spray them with a tiny bit of olive oil and then crisp them in the oven. Putting a bit of crunch into the summer rolls really makes this dish pleasing to the palate.

2) Grab a medium pot, fill with water and salt it like you’re cooking pasta. Place it over heat and wait for it to start boiling. In the mean time, over medium heat, brown some garlic in a sauce pan with olive oil. When it is browned but before it has a chance to burn, pull it off the heat, stirring constantly to keep from burning. Add 3 to 4 Tbs of hoisin and a big heaping spoonful of peanut butter. Stir everything around until it dissolves and cooks a bit. Before it gets a burnt smell, add about 1 cup of tap water (for about 2-3 people). Taste it, it will likely be a bit more sweet than salty. Throw in several shakes of soy sauce. Taste again. If it is bland and flavorless, add more peanut butter, hoisin, or soy sauce as needed. Once the taste is where you want it grab 1 to 2 Tbs of corn starch (for about 2-3 people) and add it to 1/4 cup or less of cool water. Stir until all the lumps are out. While your sauce is at a light boil, add the corn starch mixture, stirring constantly. The sauce will take on a thicker consistency and will get a glossy more translucent look to it. If you want your sauce thicker add more watered corn starch. Give it one last taste and see if it needs any more tinkering.

3) When your pot of water comes to a boil, add some noodles to it. Most people like lots of noodles in their summer rolls, add as much as you think you will need. Follow the directions on the package for how long to cook them. You want them kinda soft.

4) Now you’re ready to set your table. Set out a huge bowl of veg and herbs. Ladle the sauce into small bowls. Put some hot rooster sauce out so people can spike their peanut sauce with it. I can’t have a spring roll with out my flaming hot rooster sauce. Put out the meat and crunchy won ton skins or spring rolls. Another variation on the meat filling is to take some thinly sliced beef and take it to the table raw. Grab an electric skillet or pot and fill it with beef broth or water and spike it with white wine, red wine, or rice wine vinegar. Have everyone around the table dip the raw meat into the boiling liquid for a bit and use that in the summer rolls. You can place a wide bowl filled with steaming water at the table. Dip the rice paper wrap, rotating it to get it wet all over and then shake off the excess water. It only needs to be in the water for a second or two and then you need to shake it off completely. The biggest mistake I see people make is to let the rice paper get too wet. Even if you use a good brand of rice paper, letting it get to wet will cause it to become fragile and it will rip when you try to tighly roll your food.

5) Fill the wrap with veg and meat. Roll tightly, using a kneading action. Imagine making a beautiful cuban cigar. You want it tight so it doesn’t fall apart when you eat it. Dip in your sauce and enjoy!

You can get all of these ingredients at Viet Wah or Lam’s Seafood in China Town. You might be able to get most of it in Uwajimaya.

In order: bean thread noodles, traditional spring roll noodles, rice paper wraps (red rose/panda brand), golden mountain soy sauce, Lee Kum Kee hoisin, Rooster sauce


One thought on “Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

  1. Pingback: Vietnamese Lemongrass Pork – Thit Nuong | Cooking For Thogg

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