The Secret to Spring Rolls at Home


Spring rolls aren’t just for restaurants! We go to Num Pang to learn how to make them at home. Watch the video above or follow the recipe below!

Shrimp Summer Rolls

Serves 4

Making summer rolls is a group event in many Southeast Asian homes, much like making tamales and dumplings are for Mexican and Chinese families. It’s such a time-intensive process that it’s more enjoyable with helping hands crowded around a kitchen island or table, with lots of storytelling and laughing, and summer roll filling and rolling of course. Summer rolls are best eaten the day they are made, so bring your appetite and a good story or two and be prepared for a memorable afternoon.

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
16 large (21/26-count) peeled and deveined shrimp

4 ounces rice vermicelli noodles (see The Num Pang Pantry, page 29)
4 scallions
8 fresh mint leaves
2 Bibb lettuce leaves, torn in half (to yield 4 pieces)
8 round rice paper wrappers, for serving
About 1/2 cup bean sprouts (about 6 per roll)
Tuk Trey Sauce (page 168), for dipping

1. POACH THE SHRIMP: Fill a bowl with ice and water and set aside. Bring 4 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add the vinegar and salt and stir until dissolved. Reduce the heat to low so you can just see steam rising off the surface of the liquid, then add the shrimp. Poach the shrimp until they curl slightly and turn opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to the ice bath to chill and stop the cooking, then remove the shrimp, blot them dry, and halve them lengthwise.
2. MAKE THE SUMMER ROLLS: Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles and cook following the package instructions until they are al dente, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Trim the scallions so they are just slightly longer than the rice paper wrappers and place them in a bowl. Place the rice noodles, mint leaves, and lettuce in 3 separate bowls. Fill a medium bowl with lukewarm water, add a rice paper wrapper to the water, and moisten both sides thoroughly. Set aside (they will continue to soften as you fill them, there’s no need to soak them) and repeat with the remaining wrappers.
4. Set a sheet of plastic wrap on your cutting board (this helps prevent sticking) and place a wrapper on the plastic wrap. Place 4 shrimp halves on the lower third of the wrapper. Lay the mint leaves on top of the shrimp and set 1 scallion north of the shrimp (directly on the wrapper). Add one-quarter of the noodles above the scallion and a small piece of lettuce above the noodles, along with a few bean sprouts. Fold in the ends of the summer roll like a burrito, then roll it from bottom to top in a tight bundle. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings. Slice the rolls in half and serve with the sauce for dipping.

VARIATION: PORK SUMMER ROLLS Place 4 very thin slices cooked pork (such as the Orange-Glazed Spicy Pork Steak) over the shrimp, then follow the recipe as instructed.

VARIATION: HOISIN DIPPING SAUCE Mix 1/4 cup hoisin sauce with 2 tablespoons Tuk Trey Sauce (page 168) and sprinkle with a spoonful of crushed roasted peanuts and half a chopped fresh Thai bird’s eye chile or a drop or two of chile oil before serving with the summer rolls.

This recipe makes enough to serve four people, but really, summer rolls are fun to make for a big group. Feel free to double or quadruple the recipe to make enough to feed a crowd.

Tuk Trey Sauce
Makes 4 cups

We call this our “house dressing” because it’s the default vinaigrette-style sauce that we serve with our salads. Really, though, tuk trey sauce can be two things: it can refer to a simple fish sauce, or a more complex multi-ingredient sauce, which is what the recipe below represents. Think of it like a Cambodian version of Vietnamese nuoc cham sauce. It’s salty, tangy, spicy, and sweet, hitting lots of flavor angles at once. We can’t imagine life without it.

3 cups fish sauce
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup cane sugar or light brown sugar
2 carrots, cut into 2-inch segments
1 large white onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the fish sauce, vinegar, sugar, carrots, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, hoisin, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and salt, then reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer until slightly syrupy, about 45 minutes.
2. Turn off the heat and let cool completely, then strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into an airtight container. Whisk in the sesame oil and refrigerate for up to 1 month (shake well before serving).


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