Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shrimp & Vegetable Summer Rolls

Armed with a new julienne peeler given to me by the Easter bunny herself (didn't you know the Easter bunny is a pretty redheaded woman from Toronto?...who happens to be my mother) I was ready to tackle a slew of new healthy recipes that I had begun collecting that all require the snazzy tool. On the top of my "healthy recipes to make" list? Shrimp & Vegetable Summer Rolls, light and fresh rice paper rolls filled with crisp julienned vegetables and jam packed with some of my favourite fresh herbs. Unlike deep fried spring rolls, summer rolls require no cooking at all, just a simple dip in warm water and the firm rice paper sheets turn malleable, and ready to fill with whatever filling you so choose. 

Dying to try out my new tool, I used carrots and cucumber as my initial inspiration to create this recipe. After picking up the veggies, all it took was a short stroll around my new favourite shopping ground, St. Lawrence market, to finalize the ingredients in the recipe. Wanting a big hit of freshness in every bite, I picked up some of my favourite fresh herbs, basil, cilantro, and mint. For a bit of crunch and substance, I chose kelp noodles as opposed to the more common rice noodles as a healthy alternative. I had first tried kelp noodles in the raw and vegan pad thai from Rawlicious, and was incredibly impressed by their interesting texture that gives you the same satisfied feeling after eating pasta noodles.  Also known as "sea tangle", kelp noodles require zero cooking and are made from kelp, an edible seaweed that is very low in calories. To contrast the crisp texture from the noodles and veggies, I wanted to add something creamy to my rolls. Creamy avocado, full of healthy fats, was an absolute no-brainer. Being on a bit of a seafood kick, I couldn't resist adding in some shrimp that I quickly thawed from the freezer. Picking the ingredients is of course the easy part, then came the production. 
In a matter of seconds I learned that my julienne peeler, the tool that inspired the whole recipe, was absolute garbage. The darned thing didn't want to slice anything but my thumb. I tried to prevail, attempting different techniques, and holding the carrots in different ways, but quite frankly, the peeler is just plain dangerous. A frustrated toss into the sink, and I had resorted back to my mandolin. You will notice that I don't list how much of each ingredient to put into each roll, this is because it's really up to you and what flavours and textures you want to stand out most, and how much you are able to comfortably wrap into the rolls. My first roll was a messy disaster, with the thin rice paper tearing, the filling bursting out all over my kitchen floor, while I quickly (and very unattractively, might I add) tried to catch whatever of the rice paper roll remained into my eager mouth. Although it seemed like a total waste at first, this initial mess of a roll actually helped me to quickly learn what I needed to adjust in the recipe. Another layer of rice paper, a little less kelp noodles and veggies, and a lot more herbs and I had the perfect balance of flavours and textures, as well as a perfect healthy snack! I was so incredibly happy with how my summer rolls turned out, sending off a care package of them to my mom, my sister, and my boyfriend, knowing that they would all love them just as much as I. I am happy to report that they did indeed share the love for the rolls, sending me many praises on my delicious work. I am looking forward to making these rolls as a refreshing snack all through the hot summer months! 

*I like to use VH Spicy Thai Chili sauce to dip my summer rolls into
Tip: Make this recipe vegan by omitting the shrimp!

20 rice paper sheets (22cm in diameter)
a large handful mixed greens
about 3 medium carrots, julienned
about 1 medium cucumber, seeded & julienned
about 3/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 
about 3/4 cup mint, roughly chopped 
about 1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped 
1 large avocado, sliced
1 package kelp noodles
10 medium-sized cooked shrimp, halved
dipping sauce of your choice*

  1. Fill a medium-large bowl with warm water, lay down a clean dry towel on your work surface, and set up all ingredients in a production line. 
  2. Dip one rice paper sheet into the warm water for about 5-seconds, or until malleable. Lay flat on the towel, and lightly dab dry with another clean towel. Dip a second rice paper sheet in the warm water until softened, and lay directly on top of the first sheet. Dap to dry. 
  3. Starting with the mixed greens, lay a small amount of each filling ingredient onto the roll, adding 1 shrimp to each roll, about 3/4 of the way up the roll. For the best flavour add lots of the fresh herbs, adding slightly less basil than the cilantro and mint. Gently fold the top lip of the rice paper over the filling, and fold the two sides in. Gently roll the rice paper to create a package with the filling inside. Taste. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. You should be left with 10 rolls (minus the sacrificial first taste-testing roll). 
  4. Chill until ready to serve with your choice of dipping sauce. Serve within the first 24-hours of making. 

Listening To:
Queen - Bicycle race

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Dear Landlord, I want to ride my bicycle...

1 comment:

Crystal said...

These look so good! I've been wanting to try making summer rolls for a while. Thanks!