One very, very important skill I learned at Living Light was how to roll summer rolls, or fresh rolls, or Vietnamese rolls, or whatever you enjoy calling them. Pre-culinary school, I just didn't know how to get them looking pretty and enticing - instead, they tended to look rather mangled. But the technique is actually very easy and I want to share some diagrams I made so that you can roll 'em up in style, too!
First things first: Start with two rice paper wraps instead of just one. This makes your roll far easier to ... roll. Soak the rice paper sheets in warm water for about 30 seconds, until they start to soften but aren't goopy and shapeless. They should still be a little firm, which makes them easier to roll and hold their shape better when you're cutting them.
Not only is it a-okay to have veggies sticking out the sides, it's desirable. Trust me, it'll look awesome. I like laying a couple of romaine leaves on the first third of the rice paper wraps, leaving a little room on the edge closest to you so you can roll it up easier. Then you can basically pile up whatever you want on top - cucumber, kale, carrots, red bell pepper and avocado all make smashing choices. Make sure your veggies are thinly julienned for the ultimate roll experience.
Now you just roll it up tightly, kind of like a burrito but without tucking in the sides, which actually makes rolling these much easier. Squeeze it tight while you roll - the tighter and more compact it is, the better the final product will hold together when you serve it.
Each roll you make will yield 4 pieces. Follow the above diagram for slicing instructions - if you follow those instructions, you'll end up with beautiful rolls that look something like this:
What you should be left with are spring roll slices that don't fall apart and are aesthetically pleasing. In my opinion, presentation usually makes a huge difference on how much we desire to eat something, and these summer rolls, served with a thick peanut sauce, are so cute and yummy that you totally don't think about how you're basically just eating a big salad. Love 'em.
I'll catch up with you folks tomorrow, and I'm quite excited that I'll actually have a bit of time to play in the kitchen for the first time in several days. Keepin' my fingers crossed that experimentation goes well and delicious results occur. Toodles!