Here are some warm places I go back to in my head: making friends with a sweet dog in Buenos Aires, Argentina; driving to a faraway beach outside Recife, Brazil; checking out purple prickly pear cacti while wandering around San Xavier Mission outside Tucson, Arizona. All this mind travel is helped by eating one of my favorite summer foods, summer rolls.
Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce
There's not really a real recipe for the rolls, but I'll tell you my favorite things to wrap up in rice wrappers:
- rice sticks - Make sure not to get bean thread, cuz it's a bit slimy. The rice sticks give the roll good texture.
- matchstick carrots
- matchstick red pepper
- matchstick cucumbers
- matchstick scallions
- fresh mint leaves
- shaved fresh ginger
- crunchy lettuce leaves
Heat up a large frying pan of water, then turn off the fire. Soak a wrapper in the warm water until pliable (also not very long). Drain. On a cutting board or clean surface, put in some of each herb and veggie and a little portion of rice stick & roll up like a burrito. I like to put the colorful stuff on the outside, to show through the skin. I put a couple colorful pieces down first, then a lettuce leaf which will cradle and contain the rest of the ingredients, making it easier to roll. Your first few will look wonky, but you'll get the hang of it! Pretty soon you'll be dazzling your friends at parties, preferably parties on a beach or near a campfire.
There are zillions of variations on these rolls. I particularly like the scallion/ginger/mint interaction, but if you've got cilantro, go with that, get rid of the mint and ginger, pump up the scallion and red pepper, and include avocado or a little bit of spicy guacamole. A lot of people put in baked tofu or replace the lettuce with spinach. You get the drill: take what you've got and put in a rice wrapper!
Here's the sauce, which there is a recipe for:
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 1/8 c brown rice vinegar
- 1/3 c warm water
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
- 2/3 c chunky peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1-2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, or more to taste