Shrimp and Avocado Summer Rolls
I’m sitting at my computer right now eating a bowl of vanilla ice cream covered in salted caramel sauce and chocolate pita chips. I’m still eating it (this amazing salted caramel) every single day with no end in sight but that’s ok with me. It’s ok because I rarely go on such an overindulgent bender. It’s ok because I’m the only one home right now and I don’t have anyone who needs a thing from me at the moment so ice cream and caramel is my choice for dinner. After all, I am the one who has to pay the consequences, right? And it’s ok because for lunch I had these amazingly healthy Shrimp and Avocado Summer Rolls. There’s my balance.
Today has been a super productive day for me. It’s a Sunday and I know I really should be having a day of rest to recharge but I woke up on a mission. I’ve got a quick trip planned and I wanted to get as many things prepared and photographed as I could. The writing will have to come later. It’s beginning to catch up with me and I’m pretty tired. I want to pile up in front of the TV and watch the Golden Globe red carpet special. But let’s talk about summer rolls first?
I love summer rolls. They’re light and crispy and so healthy. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make until today. They can also be made ahead of time and would be so perfect for a party or get-together. You always need a few healthy options, especially this time of year, when people get together and these are super special.
Most of us don’t have all these ingredients normally but they were very easy to find. The spring roll wrappers and cellophane noodles are in the Asian section at the grocery.
Did you know that a summer roll is like the fresh cousin to a spring roll? Spring rolls are fried and summer rolls are made with fresh ingredients. You can make them with just about anything but veggie and chicken are very common along with these shrimp and avocado. You’ll also want to grab some Thai sweet chili sauce for dipping or a peanut sauce would be nice.
I made an assembly line so that it would be easy to put them together. It’s important to get everything chopped and lined up before you start. You’ll boil your shrimp first and let them cool before you peel and slice them lengthwise. It’s so important when boiling shrimp that you make sure you don’t cook them too long. Shrimp literally need only about 2 minutes. Bring your water to a boil, throw in your shrimp and as soon as they turn pink and opaque, they’re ready. Sometimes I let the water come back to a boil depending on how many shrimp I’m cooking. If the pot is super full it’ll take much longer but as soon as they begin to simmer again and you have some movement in your water, turn them off! If they’re hard to peel they’ve gone too far.
I used my trusty mandoline because I don’t love to julienne vegetables and it’s a snap with that thing. Nothing could be easier. They really need to be julienned though but if you’re not worrying with presentation at all and you just want them to taste good, you could always shred the carrots and cucumber for the same effect. To prepare the spring roll wrappers you’ll do the opposite. You only want to work with one at a time. It only takes a couple seconds to soak each one as you go. I found that parchment was the best base to fill and roll the wrappers. It does stick a little but not as bad as paper towels and if you’re gentle it comes right off.
In my recipe I decided I wanted to use mostly traditional ingredients. I used shrimp and avocado, that’s clear, but I also used red leaf romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumber, cellophane noodles (sometimes called Bean Thread Noodles), red cabbage, basil and cilantro. If you like mint, that’s normally used as well. Be careful with the cilantro though. It can be very overpowering if too much is used. SOme people also use Thai Basil but I didn’t find any and Italian Basil is completely fine.
You’ll lay your halved shrimp down first and then pile on your other ingredients making sure to leave a good inch on the sides. The less room left on the sides the longer and thinner the roll will be and that’s not as appealing, to me anyway. When you’re done, pull the bottom half up over the pile of shrimp and veggies and begin to roll, tuck in the ends as you go. The wrapper should be sticky enough to stick to itself and seal. If not, wet the end slightly. It took me a few tries to get them looking the way I wanted so give yourself a minute. You’ll catch on quickly and be able to see what needs to be done for them to look the way you like.
Once they’re all assembled just slice in half and arrange on a platter. They can be made up to 6 hours ahead. If you’re doing that, don’t slice and place them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel.
Pretty simple, huh? I think all together it took me maybe 20 minutes. Here’s the printable.
- 9 large shrimp, boiled, peeled and halved lengthwise
- red leaf lettuce, Bibb or Boston, rinsed, dried and torn to fit
- 2 medium carrots, julienned
- 1 medium seedless cucumber, julienned
- 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
- 1 avocado, sliced
- About 1 ounce cellophane noodles, optional (I divided my 3.75 ounce package into fourths and used one)
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar (only needed if using cellophane noodles)
- fresh basil
- fresh cilantro
- spring roll wrappers, round
- Cover cellophane noodles with boiling water and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Drain and toss with rice wine vinegar.
- In a round pie plate that's bigger than the wrappers, add enough hot water to come half way up the side.
- Working with one at a time, submerge the spring roll wrapper in the water for 10-30 seconds until soft and pliable but not torn.
- Lay the wrapper on a large piece of parchment.
- Place 3 shrimp halves, cut side up in the middle of the bottom half of the wrapper.
- Arrange other ingredients with the shrimp leaving at least an inch on the sides (the fresh ingredients should be no longer than 3 inches).
- Bring the bottom of the wrapper up and over the pile and begin to roll gently, making sure you get it tight but don't tear the delicate wrapper.
- Tuck the ends in as you go.
- Set aside until all rolls have been assembled.
- Cut in half and serve with dipping sauces.
It may seem difficult at first but I promise they’re really simple and the presentation can be gorgeous. Most of all though, just have fun!