January 20, 2014

Summer Rolls in the Dead of Winter

Vietnamese Chicken Summer Rolls

  • 1 medium (6-7 ounce) chicken breast, poached and julienned 
  • Ginger-lime vinaigrette (recipe below) 
  • 4 cups shredded Napa cabbage, washed and well drained (salad spinner, then place on paper towels to blot dry) 
  • Handful of cilantro leaves (1/3 cup..?), stems removed and roughly chopped 
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly on bias 
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated 
  • 1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
  • 2 cups (cooked) extra-thin Vietnamese rice noodles (fresh pho noodles called “banh pho tuoi” from the produce section of your local Asian grocery work really well if you can find them!) 
  • 10-12 rice paper spring roll wrappers (8-9” diameter – about dinner-plate sized)

Hardware needed for assembly:

  • Large work surface 
  • Cookie sheet with raised edge 
  • Warm water (for softening rice paper wrappers) 
  • Plastic wrap


Place half of the lime vinaigrette in a bowl; add the julienned chicken and toss to coat, then set aside.

Toss the cabbage, cilantro, green onion, carrots, and sesame seeds together; set aside.

Blanch the rice noodles in salted boiling water according to the package directions, then shock in ice water briefly. If you’re using fresh pho-style noodles, the cooking/blanching may only take 5-10 seconds – don’t let them overcook! Drain well and then spread on paper towels to blot completely dry. Give the pile of noodles a couple of chops to cut down to a more manageable size for the rolls.

Fill the cookie tray with warm water. Soak one rice paper wrapper in the water for 5 seconds; remove and shake off excess water. Place on the work surface and add a small handful of the cabbage mixture nearer to one edge of the wrapper, then add about half as much of the noodles as you did the cabbage. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of reserved lime vinaigrette, then add a large pinch of the julienned chicken. Roll as though you’d roll a burrito - fold the closest edge over the filling and roll one turn; then fold in sides tightly, then roll the rest of the way down until sealed.
Wrap each individually in a piece of plastic wrap, then repeat the process until you run out of filling. If you tear a wrapper while rolling, just transfer the filling to a fresh wrapper – do not double up the wrapper or they will be too tough to eat!

These can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or served immediately. Serve with the sweet chili dipping sauce (recipe below).

Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette
1/3 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk all together.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
4 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons warm water
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
2 pinches red pepper flakes

Whisk all together.

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