I never know what to call this dish. I’ve ordered it just about every time we eat at a Vietnamese restaurant. I usually call them summer rolls, but I’ve seen them also referred to as spring rolls. I’m going to call them “fresh spring rolls,” so as not to confuse them from “fried spring rolls.” On a recent cleaning rampage, I found two opened packages of rice paper wrappers in the back of the pantry. They were in (separate) resealable bags, and luckily, still tasted fresh.
If you’ve never worked with rice paper wrappers before, they’re quite fun. They’re sold in Asian markets (and sometimes in supermarkets). When dry, they’re stiff. You wonder how they could possible fold. Even after you dip them, they’re stiff. And still you wonder, “how are these going to wrap without cracking?
Then it happens. After you arrange the filling on the wrapper and get ready to fold, they’re miraculously soft, pliable, and more than a little sticky.
Rolling them can be tricky: If they’re too loose, the filling tumbles out when you bite into it. If they’re too tight, the wrapper may split. During the multiple times I made these, I both fully encased the filling and left one end open. If you decide to do the latter, move the filling to one side of the wrapper.
Usually in restaurants, these rolls are served with a creamy, peanut sauce. I didn’t think that would go very well with the avocado and mango, so I came up with a lighter, ponzu dipping sauce. If you can’t find ponzu you can substitute with an equal amount of soy sauce mixed with a little bit of fresh lemon juice (and maybe a squirt of fresh orange juice if you have some on hand.)
Ponzu sauce is a citrus flavored soy sauce. If you can't find it, you can substitute it with soy sauce mixed with a little bit of fresh lemon juice and a dash of fresh orange juice.
- Place lettuce leaves, carrot, cucumber, mango, avocado, mint, and cilantro on a plate. Fill a large saute pan with some water. Place a clean, non-terrycloth dish towel on a flat surface. Submerge a rice paper wrapper in the water in the saute pan for a few seconds. Lay wrapper on the towel. Place one lettuce leaf in the middle of the wrapper. Place other ingredients on top of the lettuce. Do not over stuff. Fold side edges over the filling. Roll the wrapper burrito-style. Make sure to press the filling together gently but tightly as your roll, or the filling will be too loose. Place spring roll on a plate. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
- For the dipping sauce: combine ingredients in a small bowl. Serve with spring rolls.