Summer roll mastery is easier than it looks. Before you embark on this week’s Vegetarian Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce, read the tips below (and watch our quick video) to see how to create neat, tasty summer rolls as quickly as humanly possible. (Except in tip #5, where we instruct you to be a little bit robotic.)
Use water. Fill a shallow bowl or dish with warm water. Before filling, completely submerge each rice paper wrapper in the water for 30 to 40 seconds, or until soft and pliable.
Go one at a time. Once you’ve soaked your wrapper, it’s both pliable and fragile. That means, you’ll want to work fast. Fill and roll a single summer roll, then set it aside before moving onto the second, third, and so on.
Don’t overfill. The less you stuff the wrappers, the easier each portion will be to roll. If you’re having trouble, try removing up about a quarter of the planned filling before you roll, even if that looks surprisingly spare.
Keep a kitchen towel on hand. We found it useful to dry off our work surface in between each roll, since dipping the wraps in water will leave you with a slippery workspace.
Be a one-man or one-woman assembly line. Make like a robot to keep things precise. Here’s your task: on your moistened wrapper, place a few pieces of carrot and cucumber, a few slices of avocado, a small handful of noodles and a few lettuce, cilantro and basil leaves in the middle of the moistened wrapper. Fold the bottom half of the wrapper over the filling, pressing down to create a seal, then fold the sides of the wrapper towards the center, tucking in the filling.