Brown Rice Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce
I feel like these brown rice shrimp summer rolls should be called lucky summer rolls. In fact, I was this close to calling them that. Perfect for today’s holiday, no? They might not be quite as festive as this Guinness stout cake, but they are just as tasty.
This week has already been so huge for us! As great as these summer rolls are, they don’t get the credit. I’ve alluded to this on the blog before, but the week has finally arrived. Yesterday, Connor and I anxiously awaited to hear whether he had matched into orthopaedic surgery residency for next year. It’s an incredibly competitive process and frankly, couldn’t be more stressful. The great news, and hence the lucky reference, is that he did. Cue all of the celebratory emojis. We got the email at noon, and couldn’t be more thrilled, relieved, and thankful.
The crazy part?! We don’t find out where until Friday. So until that day arrives, all we know is that we’ll be in living (and most likely moving to) in one of nine very, very different cities for the next five years of our lives. No big deal. Excuse me while I go and emotionally eat everything in sight.
[Just kidding. I hope!]
Now that I’ve shared and gotten that off my chest, let’s talk brown rice shrimp summer rolls with peanut lime dipping sauce! I love these things, and as complicated and finicky as they appear to make, I’m here to convince you that they are not. In fact, I have a little confession. This is only the second time in my life that I’ve made them myself!
Summer rolls, sometimes confusingly known as fresh spring rolls, are Vietnamese in origin, and are traditionally made with a combination of pork, shrimp, various vegetables, and rice noodles. Today’s version contains shrimp only! They’re paired with a simple (shockingly addictive) homemade peanut lime dipping sauce made with unsalted peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, fresh ginger, and a touch of sriracha sauce.
Summer rolls are actually very simple, versatile, and require little to no cook time. Particularly, if you buy cooked shrimp, which minimizes prep time considerably! They also happen to be gluten-free, and are ridiculously light and refreshing. If you prepped and put all of your ingredients out in order as you use them, you could easily turn this dish into a fun, make-your-own summer roll bar for a spring or summer entertaining!
Aside from cooked shrimp and brown rice noodles, I decided to go with a mixture of different vegetables for maximum texture and color. Thinly sliced red cabbage (you could substitute with napa cabbage), thinly sliced orange bell pepper (red or yellow will work, just don’t use green!), beautiful baby lettuce greens, and creamy avocado.
Feel free to substitute with additional vegetables (carrots, cucumber, etc.) or even leave out the shrimp, if you’d prefer to make these vegetarian. But don’t skip the fresh herbs! The fresh cilantro and mint help pull everything together.
As you can imagine, the trickiest part to making these brown rice summer rolls is, well, rolling them. However, as long as you don’t completely over stuff them, and layer your ingredients in certain order, it is relatively difficult to mess them up.
The trick is to work quickly, roll tightly, and commit. The rice papers are relatively sticky and can dry out quickly once soaked and softened, and need a delicate hand. I like to start by adding the shrimp, which are less prone to ripping the rice paper than other ingredients like peppers, etc.
Be sure to prepare your work area, have a damp paper-towel lined platter or container handy for holding the prepared rolls, and have fun with it! Then comes the best part, eating them. Enjoy!
Brown Rice Shrimp Summer Rolls with Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce
Peanut Lime Dipping Sauce:
- 1/2 cup unsalted creamy (or crunchy) peanut butter
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger root
- 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
Brown Rice Summer Rolls:
- 2 ounces dried brown rice noodles
- 8 round brown rice paper wrappers (plus extra for any mistakes!)
- 1 lb cooked shrimp (deveined and peeled)
- 1.5 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (roughly 1/4 of one small head of red cabbage)
- 1 large orange, yellow, or red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 ripe avocado, pitted and sliced
- baby red lettuce leaves
- fresh cilantro leaves
- fresh mint leaves
- Make Dipping Sauce: Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor. Pulse until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. If sauce is too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time (and pulse). Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the brown rice noodles according to the package instructions, drain, and rinse under cold water. Allow noodles to sit in colander and drain of any excess water while you assemble the remaining ingredients.
- Assemble Summer Rolls: (Refer to this step-by-step photo post if having difficulty). Prepare your ingredients, set them out in an easily accessible manner, and have a clean counter for rolling. Set aside a larger container (or large plate), and line with a damp paper towel (have plastic wrap accessible for covering). Place a clean, damp kitchen towel on your counter. Fill a large bowl with hot water. Working with one paper at a time, soak the brown rice paper in the hot water (completely submerge) for at least 15 seconds in order to soften. Place wrapper, textured side up, on the kitchen towel.
- Lay 5-6 shrimp halves in a row, cut side up (I was working with relatively small shrimp, but reduce to 3 or 4 pieces if they are larger), in the center of the rice paper–leave at least 1″ or 1.5″ on either side of the shrimp. Place a small handful of cooked (and cooled) rice noodles on top of the shrimp, top with shredded red cabbage, 2-3 strips of bell pepper, two slices of avocado and a baby lettuce leaf, in that order. Top with fresh cilantro leaves and fresh mint leaves.
- Fold over the bottom half of the wrapper over the filling, holding the filling in place as you do so. Fold in the sides, holding filling as you do so. Holding the folds down, carefully roll the wrapper up from bottom to top, as tightly as you can without ripping. Place roll seam-side down on the platter, and cover with plastic wrap while you prepare the remaining summer rolls.
- If serving immediately, cut summer rolls in half and serve with peanut dipping sauce.
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