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Recipe for Vietnamese Summer Rolls

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16 (6-inch) rounds rice paper
8 leaves lettuce, washed, dried and torn or chopped
2 cups cooked rice vermicelli, rinsed and drained
1 cup shredded peeled carrots
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
32 poached shrimp, split lengthwise in half

1/2 cup Asian fish sauce
2-3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Vietnamese chili-garlic paste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Lime wedges 

Dip a sheet of rice paper a third of the way into a bowl of hot water for about 2 seconds. Turn it and dip remaining section, then lay on a damp towel. Working on bottom third of rice paper, spread a bit of lettuce, noodles, carrots, herbs and pork and/or shrimp. Fold up bottom edge to cover, then fold in the sides. Roll tightly. Make more rolls, using remaining ingredients. 

Combine fish sauce, sugar, honey, ginger, chili-garlic paste and about 1/3 cup water. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve rolls right away, or refrigerate, lightly covered, up to 2 hours. Cut each roll into 2 or 3 pieces, then serve with dipping sauce and lime wedges. Makes 16 rolls. 

Variation: For a Summer Roll Salad, omit rice paper. Use about 6 cups torn lettuce leaves, 3 cups noodles, and 1 1/2 cups carrots; other ingredients can remain the same. Divide lettuce among 4 plates, then top each with a quarter of the noodles, carrots, herbs and pork or shrimp. Drizzle dipping sauce over all, and serve with lime wedges. Serves 4.

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About John DeMers

I've been a journalist and author forever. My favorite single word in the English language is "foodandwine." This spirit drives my 45 published books and my weekly radio show heard in Houston, Dallas and Austin.

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