As much as we are all about home-cooked meals, we admit that there are certain things that we’d rather not make ourselves. Bread, pizza dough, tofu, almond milk, sushi, and tater tots are all part of our Let’s-Buy-Instead-of-Make List. Not because they are difficult to make…they’re just pretty time-consuming! (And why not leave it to the pros to do what they do best, right?)
Another good example is summer rolls. Whether you see these on the menu at your favorite local Vietnamese restaurant or packaged for take-out at the supermarket, this isn’t a dish that you would necessarily make at home.
One look and you’re probably thinking, “Too much effort!” And of course, “How do you even roll them into perfect bundles of yumminess?!”
“These were so easy and fun to make! Everyone pitched in and we had a blast learning how to make the rolls.” -Jennifer
We have some good news, though. Summer rolls are actually very easy to make at home! While we can’t teach you how to make the perfect Parisian baguette, we can teach you how to make this light and healthy dish right in your own kitchen. With enough practice, you’ll soon be impressing friends and family. They’ll think that they just stepped into an official Vietnamese restaurant!
First, to keep things real simple, we’re going to get some help from rotisserie chicken. Rotisserie chicken is a tasty and fast way to get dinner on the table, and it’s okay to cheat a little now and then. (We have saved a lot of time by using rotisserie chicken in our dishes!)
Lastly, each ingredient is placed in their own plate or bowl for easy assembling. This is also a great way to get the whole family involved, since everyone can choose the ingredients that they like to put in their rolls. Don’t like basil? No prob! Just leave it out.
Then comes the fun part – rolling these summer rolls! Check out this video on how to assemble summer rolls:
And just like that, you are now a pro at making summer rolls! You no longer need to buy them anymore. They are very inexpensive and easy to make, and besides, doesn’t everything taste better when you make them at home anyway?!
Now, if only there’s an easy and quick way to make that perfect Paris baguette…
“I was SO proud of myself, making these! Learned a new skill and felt creative doing it! I found the methodical practice of wrapping these little rolls meditative and relaxing. Thanks for teaching us another new kitchen skill.” -Cara
For More Smarts:
Prep the filling ahead of time. Then when dinner time comes around, it’s just a fun wrapping party!
Summer roll papers can be found in the ethnic aisle of the supermarket, or you can order them online.
Very quick and easy prep is needed for this dish. Learn how to grate carrots and julienne cucumbers with these videos:
A food processor is a handy tool for grating carrots.
A frying pan is an easy and convenient way to heat the water and dip the rice paper wrappers.
For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our ‘Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools’
- Nuoc Nam (3/4 cups):
- Water – 1/2 cup
- Sugar – 2 tbsp
- Garlic – 2 cloves, minced
- Fish sauce – 2 tbsp (Red Boat brand has the fewest additives)
- Lime juice – 2 tbsp
- Hot sauce (opt) – to taste
- Rotisserie Chicken Summer Rolls:
- Rice vermicelli noodles – 6 oz (Find these thin rice noodles in the ethnic aisle. If you can’t find them, substitute with another thin noodle.)
- Rotisserie chicken – 1/2, shredded
- Carrots – 1/2 lb, grated
- Cucumbers – 2/3 lb, sliced into matchsticks
- Green lettuce – 1/2 head, leaves torn
- Basil – 4 sprigs, leaves torn
- Rice papers – 16 sheets (You will probably make about 4 to 6 / person. Look for them in the ethnic aisle.)
- Cook rice noodles – Cook according to package instructions. If wrapping summer rolls on the same day, keep the noodles in cold water until you’re ready to wrap. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Rotisserie chicken – Take meat off the bone and shred. Use knife and fork or just hands. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Carrots – Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Cucumbers / Green lettuce / Basil – Prep as directed.
- Make nuoc nam – Combine sweetener and water and boil (or heat in a microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, until water is bubbling). Mix with remainder of sauce ingredients and season to taste with hot sauce. Adjust taste as needed – use fish sauce for more savory, more lime juice for tartness, more sweetener for sweetness. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Fill a frying pan with about 1 ½” of water. Heat water over medium-low heat – it shouldn’t be so hot that you can’t touch it.
- Dip rice paper into water and rotate through water (make sure to watch this video because it can be a bit tricky to prevent the rice paper from sticking). Place onto a plate. Do 4 at a time and then assemble 4 rolls.
- To assemble rolls, layer lettuce, noodles, carrots, cucumbers, chicken and basil at the end of the rice paper that is close to you. Don’t over-fill or the paper will break. Fold rice paper over the filling from the bottom up. Then fold sides over. Roll as tightly as possible (Again, watch the video, which is much better than my description).
- Repeat until done. Assemble until you have no more filling.
- Enjoy rolls dipped with nuoc nam sauce!