Winter is coming. Or at least that's what the forecasters are promising. (Yeah, I'm complaining already.) Apparently last year's polar vortexes and negative temperatures didn't drive the entirety of New York City to the coastline of Florida or into the clutches of LA. There's still a whole lot of us here. And we're hungry.
The thing is, while the winter can mean thick coats and heavy, hearty meals, I still find myself craving lighter, yet filling, meals throughout the bitter cold months.
Zings of lime, the brightness of a green mango, and the tang from a fish sauce-based dipping sauce make these summer rolls seem like they'd only work during the warmer months. But it's these same qualities that make them such a perfect juxtaposition to the chilis and stews of the winter. The fish sauce mellows out the punchy, crisp flavors in the rolls with a comforting funk, and brings back memories of rolling with my mom and sister in our family's kitchen. Much like the makings of tamales are for Mexican families; my Thai and Laotian family would gather to make these rolls as a rolling and filling unit. When you add in the Gulf Shrimp, a staple from the Emerald Coast where my American father grew up, you have a perfect marriage of both sides of my family.
So if you've had one too many sips of some pumpkin-spiced-whatever or you need a change of pace from the hot and heavy meals of fall and winter, roll a few of these and pretend it's 50 degrees warmer outside.
Shrimp and Green Mango Summer Rolls
Summer Roll Ingredients
1 Pack of Rice Paper Wrappers These can be found at your local Asian grocery, but are more and more often found at basic groceries stores, as well.
1 Bunch of Thai Basil
1 Bunch of Cilantro
1 Bunch of Mint
1 Slightly or Completely Unripe Green Mango
1 Purple Onion
1 Pound of Shrimp, Preferably from the Gulf of Mexico
1 Package of Thin Glass or Rice Noodles
2 Birds Eye or Thai Chili Peppers
1/4 Cup of Thai Fish Sauce, I prefer Golden Boy Brand.
1/2 Tablespoon of palm sugar or unrefined sugar
- Boil two medium pots of water. Boil noodles according to package and boil shrimp for 2-3 minutes in the other pot. Set aside cooked noodles to drain.
- Peel shrimp and set aside.
- Take the boiling water from one pot and set aside to cool slightly in a heat resistant bowl.
- Julienne the mango and purple onion into thin strips and set aside.
- For the sauce, chop the chilies and macerate or finely dice the garlic. My mom usually macerates both the chilies and the garlic in a mortar and pestle to marry the flavors.
- Over low heat combine the sugar and fish sauce until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove mixture from heat.
- Combine chilies, garlic, fish sauce mixture, and lime in a small dipping saucer. Allow to cool.
- Set up your mise en place, or work station, with all of your ingredients so that they are close by. Begin your first roll by dipping one rice paper wrapper into the warm water. Line up a pinch of noodles, two or three shrimp, the sliced mango and onion, and pinches of cilantro, mint and basil along the side closest to you of the round wrap; similar to how one would arrange a sushi roll or burrito before rolling.
- Roll the shortest flap of the wrap over the ingredients and continue rolling while folding the ends of the wrap in to close each end. Just like a burrito.
- Set aside on a saran wrapped plate & covered to retain moister in the wraps until plating and serving.
- When all wraps have been rolled, serve immediately with dipping sauce.
$$$ Breakdown: Relatively inexpensive ingredients means that these are a meal with big flavor and low cost. The highest cost item are the shrimp, clocking in around $15. With about $15 worth of veggies and having some things in my pantry (garlic, fish sauce, lime) this mountain of about 20 rolls comes out to $1.50 per roll - way less than a restaurant. They'd be even cheaper if you only used vegetables!
Tip: Just like a burrito, you can pack these guys with as much or as little as you want, meaning that they can become a meal by themselves. Feel free to experiment with fillings. Bean sprouts, pickled daikon and carrots, cucumber, and avocado are all fun additions to the summer rolls. Peanut, hoisin, siracha, and chili garlic sauce also work as great sauces for the rolls.