Tuesday Dinner: Shrimp Summer Roll

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Rice paper is a pain in the ass.

No, seriously, it is awful to work with. Think phyllo but if you had to submerge it in water and then use it immediately. Submerge it too long and it turns into edible plastic wrap — folding over, sticking and becoming totally useless. Take it out of the water too soon and it cracks when rolling. You have to time your work perfectly.

It’s a high-effort, high-reward ingredient, assuming that you are capable of rolling your food tightly. Apparently, I am not. My spring rolls were very loose, not unlike every burrito I have ever attempted to enclose.

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Overall these were good. If you were blessed with actual motor skills, you may even find this to be easy to assemble. Otherwise, save this for a hot evening when standing near a stove or grill is out of the question.

WHAT WORKED: The combination of shrimp and avocado. If I were to do this again, I might opt for a slaw with napa cabbage instead of romaine.

WHAT DIDN’T: The rice paper. My imprecise hands. Genetics of the Paventi family.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “Why is one so big and the other so narrow?”

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Anything is possible, though I tend to give up pretty easily and may bypass using rice paper ever again.

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Shrimp Summer Rolls
By Jared Paventi

  • 8 sheets rice paper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 lbs. medium shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, cleaned and tails removed
  • thin slices from 1 ripe Hass avocado,
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce
  • cilantro, matchstick carrots, napa cabbage (optional)

Fill a pie plate or large bowl with cold water. Set a damp, but not wet, towel on your prep surface, preferably next to the bowl.

Submerge two sheets of rice paper in the bowl of water for about 15 seconds, or before the rice paper gets too flimsy. Set the sheets on the wet towel overlapping with one another.

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Line up five or six shrimp in the middle of the sheets. Top with 2 to 3 avocado slices and a small handful of lettuce and a small amount of the optional ingredients.

Fold the long ends of the rice paper inward and over the stuffing, then fold side of the rice paper closest to you over the top. Roll tightly, but gently to prevent tearing, until you have a long cylindrically shaped roll about as thick as an eggroll.

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Slice in half with a sharp knife and set on a plate. Repeat until your have exhausted your ingredients.

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Serve cold with sweet chili sauce, Mirin, soy sauce, tzatziki, or other sauce for dipping.

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