Traditionally, the shrimp is boiled in Vietnamese Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon). However, I love the flavor of marinated and grilled Lemongrass shrimp in these Summer Rolls. You can find lemongrass in most supermarkets - peel off the outer leaves. Use a microplane zester to zest the bottom 4" of the lemongrass stalk. If you can't find lemongrass, substitute with fresh lemon zest, or just leave it out. You could also marinate the shrimp in a little bit of garlic/ginger/soy.
About the Cashew Butter Dipping Sauce: Most recipes for dipping sauce call for Peanut Butter, however a Cashew Butter or even Almond Butter is more fragrant, delicate and oh-so-delicious. I like my sauce a little thin, so that when I dip my roll in the sauce, it lightly coats the roll and I can still taste the fresh, vibrant vegetables inside.
Ingredients:FOR THE SUMMER ROLLS
½ tsp fish sauce (substitute with soy sauce)
½ tsp freshly grated lemongrass
freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp sugar
24 small sized shrimp, shelled and deveined
6 oz dried rice vermicelli
12 round rice papers (8" diameter)
1 head of butter or Boston Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
1 cup julienned or shredded carrots
½ cup julienned red bell peppers
½ mango, sliced into thin slivers
24 mint leaves
FOR THE CASHEW BUTTER DIPPING SAUCE
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, finely minced (about 3 teaspoons)
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
3 tablespoons cashew butter
1/4 cup water
In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lemongrass, pepper and sugar. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Marinate shrimp for 10 minutes. In meantime, boil a pot of water. Add vermicelli and cook for 4 minutes. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Try to remove as much water as possible. Set aside.
Grill the shrimp in a large skillet with 1 tbl cooking oil on high heat until cooked through, about 2 minutes. You could also skewer the shrimp and grill on your outdoor grill. When shrimp is cool enough to handle, bisect each shrimp down the middle of its back so that you have two identical halves of shrimp. This makes the shrimp thin enough to wrap evenly.
Grab a pie plate or rectangular baking dish and fill it with about 1" of warm temperature water. Dip one rice paper round in the dish for a quick 2-seconds. Lift round and let the water drip off. Place on clean, dry work surface. Blot the top of the round with a paper towel. You'll work one roll at a time.
Now it's time to roll. The wrapper will still be a little stiff. By the time you finish piling on the ingredients, it will have softened enough to roll. Lay 4 halves of the shrimp in a line near the bottom 1/3 of the round. Top with some lettuce, vermicelli noodles, carrots, bell pepper, mango, and finishing with 2 mint leaves. Try to keep the ingredients compact and piled on top of the shrimp. Starting with the side closest to you, roll up the roll tight, stopping halfway to gently tug back on the roll to tighten. The wrapper is self-sealing. You can use a sharp knife to cut off the two ends to make it look neater.
Transfer to platter and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying. Wipe counter or plate dry and repeat with remaining.
Some rice rounds are made thicker than others. If you find your wrapper is a little too stiff by the time you need to wrap, either blot less water off the rice round next time, let it sit for a few seconds before adding ingredients or dip in just slightly warmer water (but not hot!) Just remember to let the water drip off and wipe your working surface dry each time - a dry surface allows the rice paper to stick to the surface and create a little tension so that you can wrap.
Also, I've found it's best to work one roll at a time - since it only takes a few seconds for the rice round to soften, you really aren't saving a lot of time by dipping all your rice rounds at once. In fact, if 2 rounds touch each other - they will stick and you'll have a heck of a time getting them apart without tearing or wrinkling. If you must dip all at once, separate each wet round with a damp paper towel.