Summer Rolls for Sunday Supper – Tablescape Thursday

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Last weekend we were asked to stand in for friends at a function that was scheduled to overlap the dinner hour and extend well into the evening. No mention was made of food. It seemed probable that food would be served, but experience has taught me that probable is not always the sure thing we assume it to be. Rather than chance a long evening without food, I decided to make a late lunch that would carry us through the evening, whatever happened. I love to prepare Asian food on these occasions. It’s light and easy to prepare but filling enough to make evenings with uncertain meals easier to handle. We have a low table in our living room that’s used for a lot for meals. It has a view of the fireplace and with candles and flowers it’s a great place for dinner for two. Fortunately, we both can still manage the ups and downs that are necessary to sit at a table 18 inches off the floor. We are, however, no longer taking bets as too how long that will continue. My primary china service is white, but I augment it with special pieces, usually from special places, that make our ethnic meals seem more authentic. The red-lined cups I’ve used here are part of a tea service given to me by a client who became a friend. The lids are used to hold dipping sauce while the cups usually hold the clear soup that begins our meals. The chargers are from an old employer’s kitchen. That gorgeous geranium is from one of the window boxes we use to tart up the decks that surround our home. I know it’s old-fashioned but I really want the food to be the focus of a meal with family and friends. I deliberately try to keep things understated and use small pops of color try to keep the table interesting. I’m really pleased with the simplicity of my Asian table. I was also pleased with the simplicity of the meal I prepared for us. My choices? Pho Bo, a Vietnamese soup, and summer rolls. My recipe for Pho Bo can be found here and the recipe for summer rolls and a simple dipping sauce appears below. In Vietnam these rolls are called goi cuon, or salad rolls. They are bundles of shrimp or chicken that are combined with rice noodles and fresh mint before being wrapped and rolled in a paper thin rice wrapper. I hope you’ll try the homemade version of both. They are really fresh and lovely. They are also easy to make.

Summer Rolls…from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite

Ingredients: 1/2 pound thin dried rice noodles
12 (8-inch) round rice paper sheets
2 cups tender lettuce leaves cut crosswise into 1-inch strips
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup frsh cilantro leaves
5 green onions, cut into 3-inch lengths, then cut lengthwise into thin strips
12 medium shrimp cooked, peeled and halved lengthwise or 1/3 pound shredded chicken
Dipping sauce

1) Bring a medium saucepan of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop in rice noodles and remove from heat. Let stand 8 to 10 minutes, gently lifting and stirring noodles occasionally as they stand to separate the strands and cook them evenly. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Set aside.
2) Fill a large shallow bowl with hot water.
3) To make each roll: Place 1 sheet of rice paper into water and submerge it for about 15 seconds. Remove it carefully, draining off water. Place it on a work surface. On bottom third of sheet, place following ingredients in a horizontal row;
1/4 cup noodles, some lettuce strips, some mint leaves and some cilantro leaves. Sprinkle green onion slivers on top. Lift wrapper edge nearest to you and roll it up and over filling, tucking it in under them about halfway along wrapper and compressing everything gently in a cylindrical shape. Fold in sides as though making an envelope. Place a portion of chicken or 2 shrimp halves, pink side down, on rice sheet just above cylinder. Continue rolling wrapper and press seam to close it. If it is too dry to close, moisten it with a bit of water to seal. Set the roll on a platter, seam side down and continue to fill and roll wrappers until you have 8 to 10 rolls.
4) To serve, leave rolls whole or cut in half diagonally. Serve with a dipping sauce. Yield: 8 to 10 rolls.

Dipping Sauce


1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce ot 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1) Combine garlic, sugar and chili-garlic sauce in a small bowl or on a cutting board; mash to a paste.
2) Scrape into another small bowl. Add fish sauce, water and lime juice. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Transfer to small bowl/bowls for dipping. Unused sauce will keep for 1 week in refrigerator. Yield: 1/2 cup.

Recipe adapted from Quick and Easy Vietnamese by Nancy McDermott

This recipe is being linked to Tablescape Thursday hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.

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