Asian Summer Rolls

I was recently asked to teach a hands-on class for a group that included individuals that were gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan, so the preferred cuisine was Asian. They wanted something quick and fun so they could get on with their real reason for gathering, a colleague’s send-off.  I always like to teach at least one technique in class that may be foreign to most people, and have them walk away thinking “that was really easy. Who knew?” And so it was decided that Asian Summer Rolls would be the class.

Summer Rolls, sometime called Spring Rolls depending on the cuisine, are the rolls that have stuffing ingredients wrapped in a transparent paper.  You will often see them described on the menu as “Not Fried”.  They are very healthy, can be made with a myriad of leftover proteins and fresh vegetables that you already have in your house and are good for all types of individual food preferences. For the class, I laid out all types of ingredients and had the students “shop” for their ingredients to make the rolls.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of the instructions below.  Once you read through them, they boil down (pun intended) to this: proteins cooked, vegetables Julienne’d, a bowl of hot water and a couple of no-cook sauces.  All of this can be done ahead. The previous day, actually.  When it’s time to roll, lay out all your ingredients on a tray before you begin and the rolling will go very quickly.  The rolls don’t hold well. They tend to get sticky, but will be OK for about 2 hours, if covered with a slightly damp paper towel and then covered in plastic wrap.   It’s fun to have your guests (or family) roll their own at the table and eat them immediately.  You have really done all the work before and they get to have the make custom rolls suited to their taste.  Below is what is typically in a classic version of a Summer Roll (what you might expect in a restaurant) but I have used chicken, crab, steak and what every veggies I had around.  The principle is the same.  Finely sliced, shredded or julienned, so that it can be easily rolled and you experience all the ingredients with every bite.

Let’s Roll.

*Yield: 30 rolls (there are no set amounts of ingredients here; this is only a suggestion)

Asian Summer Rolls


  • 1 lb. cooked medium shrimp OR 1 lb. pork, cooked
  • 1 lb. dried rice noodles (thin thread) or rice vermicelli
  • 30 round 8.5” rice paper wrappers
  • 2 C. mung bean sprouts, cleaned
  • 5 carrots
  • 60 fresh basil leaves
  • 2 large bunches of cilantro
  • 4 serrano chilies
  • 3 seedless English cucumbers
  • 6 scallions
  • 3 small heads of Bibb lettuce


  1. Cook (or soak) noodles according to package instructions. Drain. Rinse well with cold water.   Drain.summer roll rice  noodles
  2. Cut cooked shrimp horizontally in ½.

    Horizontal Cut

    Horizontal Cut

  3. Cut pork into a julienne.
  4. Peel carrots and cut into a julienne.
    First Cut Carrots Into Planks;Then Fine Strips

    First Cut Carrots Into Planks;Then Fine Strips

    summer roll carrots julliene

  5. Separate basil leaves and cilantro leaves.
  6. Thinly slice chilies.

    Taste The Chilis First For Level of Heat

    Taste The Chilis First For Level of Heat

  7. Peel and julienne cucumber.
  8. Slice scallions (light green and white parts) lengthwise in quarters, then slice into 3” pieces.

    Cut the Scallions in 1/2 Lengthwise, Then in 1/2 Again

    Cut the Scallions in 1/2 Lengthwise, Then in 1/2 Again

  9. Separate lettuce leaves and cut in ½.
  10. Fill a fry pan or bowl with hot tap water
  11. Arrange your ingredients in front of you.

    The Prepped Ingredients

    The Prepped Ingredients

  12. Place a clean slightly damp towel on your work surface and submerge one rice paper in the hot water until it is soft and pliable(about 15 seconds).
    Dry Rice Paper. Soaked Rice Paper.

    Dry Rice Paper.

    summer rolls rice paper in water

    Soaked Rice Paper.


  13. Lift the wrapper out of the water, letting the water drain off for a few seconds.  Place the wrapper on the towel.
  14. Working quickly, layer your ingredients slightly off center on the wrapper beginning with the protein (if you are using) on the bottom.
    First lay Down The Protein.

    First lay Down The Protein.

    Then Layer The Rest Of The Ingredients

    Then Layer The Rest Of The Ingredients

  15. Fold the bottom ½ of the wrapper over your ingredients. and gently tuck and form into a neat roll.

    The First Roll With Sides Tucked

    The First Roll With Sides Tucked

  16. Fold the sides in, pressing firmly
  17. Roll towards the open end.

    The Finished Roll

    The Finished Roll

  18. Repeat.  Serve with one or both of the sauces below.

Sauces For Asian Summer Rolls


  • ¾ C natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 C hot water
  • 2 TBL. fresh lime juice
  • 4 tsp. (generous) soy sauce
  • 1 TBL granulated sugar
  • 2 ¼ tsp chili-garlic paste
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
  • ½ tsp sesame oil


  1. Mix all ingredients together.

Spicy Dipping Sauce

  • ½ C fresh lime juice
  • 3 TBL. fish sauce
  • 3 TBL. granulated sugar
  • 2 fresh Thai chilies, thinly sliced


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
summer roll finished

Asian Summer Rolls


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Categories: Appetizers


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