What is the difference between a spring roll and a summer roll?
A spring roll is a roll filled with meat and vegetables, wrapped in a skin usually made from wheat flour, and fried crispy. You commonly find it served with a thick, sweet-sour sauce. King Eggroll in San Jose has built a thriving business on the quality of its spring rolls.
A summer roll is a roll filled with meat and vegetables, wrapped in a skin made from rice paper, and uncooked. (The Vietnamese name, gỏi cuốn literally means “salad roll”.) It is served with a hoisin-peanut dipping sauce. Most Vietnamese take out places, like Huong Lan on Tully Rd., sell various kinds of summer rolls.
Of course, if you have the ingredients, you an assemble them at home yourself. Here, we used shiso, mint, and Thai basil leaves plus rice vermicelli noodles and bean sprouts. Cooked shrimp was the protein of choice for this one. There are lots of choices for different ingredients – use your imagination!
The real trick is in the wrapping. The rice paper sheets are very delicate once they get wet. You quickly dip the skin into a bowl of warm water then immediately move it to the assembling plate. Layer the ingredients, then gently wrap and roll.
To make the dipping sauce, I mixed some hoisin sauce, some chunky peanut butter, a little sesame oil, some water to thin it and some sriracha chili sauce for spiciness.
Annie is much better than me at wrapping summer rolls. Once, in order to save time, I piled a bunch of dry rice paper skins on a plate and poured water over the whole bunch to soften them. Of course, I got a soggy mess, especially with the bottom skins that sat the longest in the water. Good thing these skins are relatively inexpensive! Now, I just leave the wrapping to her.