Fresh Shrimp Summer Rolls are a light healthy dish perfect in the hotter months especially. Paired with a salty, citrusy Ponzu Sweet Chili Sauce they are a colorful and delicious appetizer or light main dish.
If you've enjoyed summer rolls at Vietnamese restaurants you can now make them at home! Only a few fresh ingredients are needed and they are absolutely delicious full of fresh veggies.
Instead of a traditional peanut dipping sauce we pair them with a better dipping sauce: Ponzu Sweet Chili sauce. Only four ingredients and the flavors are out of this world good! Salty, sweet and lightly spicy.
Difference between Vietnamese Spring Rolls vs. Summer Rolls
First off 'spring rolls' generally refers to the Chinese deep fried rolls wrapped in a wheat dough wrapper.
Vietnamese spring rolls, also called summer rolls, salad rolls, rice paper rolls or fresh spring rolls, use a thin wrapper made of rice flour. These rolls include fresh vegetables and light protein.
"Gỏi cuốn" in Vietnamese refers to fresh Vietnamese summer rolls. They are packed with julienned vegetables, fresh herbs, often glass noodles and a light protein like pre-cooked shrimp.
They are served cold so perfect for the hotter months when big flavors are welcome in a lighter dish. Peanut sauce is a traditional dipping sauce though we are pairing these delicious summer rolls with a citrus Ponzu Sweet Chili sauce.
It's light delicious sauce with citrus flavors along with saltiness from soy sauce and sweetness from the sweet chili sauce.
What makes this skinny?
- fresh vegetable and lean shrimp filling ingredients
- rice paper summer rolls require no deep frying and the wrappers are only 35-45 calories per wrapper
- the combination of lean protein (shrimp), some healthy fat (avocado) and carbohydrate (vegetables) makes this a well balanced dish leaving you feeling satisfied
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Rice paper wrappers. Also called spring roll wrappers these thin wrappers start as a brittle sheet and are transformed when soaked in water to pliable, roll-able transparent wrappers. They can be found in the International ingredients section of most grocery stores, Asian markets and online.
Shrimp. Medium size pre-cooked shrimp will be used. You'll need a half pound or about 15 shrimp. They can be previously frozen and thawed too. The shrimp need to be peeled, deveined and with the tails removed. You'll use whole shrimp but can also use shrimp halves; if so use half the quantity and slice then lengthwise.
Carrot. Use large size carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick size.
Cucumbers. You'll use one Persian cucumber and cut into slender sticks. Persian cucumbers are a smaller variety similar to an English cucumber. They are essentially seedless with a thin skin which does not need to be peeled. A small or half an English cucumber can also be substituted.
Fresh herbs. You can add fresh cilantro or basil...or a combination! Try some Thai basil if available.
Scallions. Also called green onions, you'll use two cut into 1-inch lengths.
Small butter lettuce leaves. Butter lettuce is tender and perfect to add. Use the small inner leaves which are tender and pliable. If there is a firm rib in the center of the leaf remove it.
Yuzu Ponzu. This is a Japanese citrusy soy sauce. It has a delicious combination of the saltiness of soy sauce and the light, citrusy flavor that makes is a lighter tasting sauce. It can be found in the international food section of grocery stores. If gluten-free check the label (regular soy sauce is not gluten-free). We used Marukan Yuzu Ponzu which is gluten-free.
Sweet chili sauce. This sauce typically used in Asian dishes and is made from a combination of red chili peppers, rice vinegar, a sweetener (usually sugar or honey) and is delicious on everything. It's not a super spicy sauce but more sweet, tangy and lightly spicy.
Toasted sesame oil. Only a teaspoon is needed and gives a warming sesame flavor.
How to make Summer Rolls - Step-by-Step
The first time making a summer roll may feel awkward but you'll be an expert wrapper roller in no time! You can change up the ingredients to seasonal fresh ingredients you love.
STEP 1. Soften the rice paper wrappers
In a pan large enough to hold a rice paper wrapper (a pie plate works great for round wrappers) fill with 1 inch of slightly warm water. Dip the wrappers one at a time (photo 1 - this shows a square wrapper which is easier to see the texture; either square or round rice paper wrappers can be used).
Remove it and place on a plastic cutting board (photo 2). NOTE: if there is a texture side to the wrapper, place the smooth side down (this will become the outside).
If not using a plastic cutting board, allow the wrapper to stay in the water for 10-15 seconds. Do not oversoak or they can tear.
STEP 2. Assemble
With the smooth side of the wrapper facing down, layer filling ingredients (starting with a lettuce leaf first - photo 3) for the filling approximately 2-3 inches from the bottom (the bottom third of the wrapper) and in a rectangular pile.
Just a few pieces of each ingredient (carrot, cucumber, green onion) are needed (refer to images - photo 4).
Finish with the slices of avocado, sprigs of cilantro (or leaves of each herb being used) then 2-3 tender shrimp in a line on top of the ingredients (this allows the shrimp to be on top of the roll) (photo 5).
- Using dampened fingertips, fold bottom of wrapper up over the filling (photo 6). Fold each the right and left sides over vertically (photo 7).
- Using firm pressure, gently roll the end with the filling over to snugly seal into a tight cylinder (photo 8). The wrapper is self-sealing so will stick to itself.
Repeat for the remaining wrappers.
STEP 3. Make the sauce
Combine the ponzu sauce, sweet chili sauce, toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds in a small bowl Stir to fully combine.
STEP 4. Serve
Serve the finished rolls with sauce and a wedge of lime for a squeeze of lime juice (if desired).
Change the vegetables. Shredded red cabbage, matchsticks of bell peppers, use your favorites or what's in season.
Change the protein. Instead of shrimp use shredded chicken breast or tofu.
Change up the sauce. Try our skinny homemade peanut sauce or hoisin sauce.
Pro Tips for making fresh Summer Rolls
Use a flat work surface.
Use a plastic cutting board. There are many methods for wetting the rice wrappers. I've found dipping a wrapper in the water to just immerse it and moving it to a plastic cutting board works best.
While the wrapper sits on the cutting board it continues to soften. The plastic cutting board does not absorb any of the water on the dipped rice paper wrapper. This allows the water to continue to sink into the wrapper.
Once you’ve assembled the filling for that spring roll, the rice paper wrapper will be the perfect texture to roll. It won’t be too stiff and not overly softened which could allow it could rip.
Keep moistened fingers while rolling. Working with moistened fingers helps the pliability of the assembly.
Textured side of the wrapper faced inside. Rice Paper Wrappers have a smooth side and a textured side. The filling will be placed on the texture side inside the Spring Roll. The outside will be smooth.
Cut vegetables into thin slices. Matchstick size, long and thin, work great in spring rolls both for rolling and for eating them. They are easy to bite through and have a satisfying texture.
Do not over fill a wrapper. Only a few pieces of each vegetable is needed. It might seem meager but after rolling the spring roll it's the right size.
Sharp vegetables may puncture the wrapper. Starting with butter lettuce (with the center rib removed so they are pliable) protects the rice wrapper from any sharp pieces of carrot.
How to Store
These fresh rolls are best enjoyed when they are made. They can be stored for one day in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If storing place a lettuce leaf between them so they do not stick together risking the wrapper ripping when separated.
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Shrimp Summer Rolls with Ponzu Sweet Chili sauce
Summer Roll ingredients
- ½ pound medium size cooked shrimp deveined, shell and tails removed
- 6 rice paper wrappers also called spring roll rice wrappers
- 12 small butter lettuce leaves
- 2 medium carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 medium Persian cucumber cut into thin slices; English cucumber can also be used
- 1 medium ripe avocado sliced
- 2 scallions (green onions) cut into 1-inch lengths
- 12 fresh cilantro or basil leaves or a combination; rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
Ponzu Sweet Chili sauce
- ⅓ cup ponzu sauce yuzu ponzu suggested
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Making the Summer Rolls
- Softening the rice paper wrappers: Add an inch of lukewarm water to a pan large enough to fit a wrapper. Dip one wrapper into the water to submerge it. Remove and place on a plastic cutting board with the smooth side facing down towards the cutting board.NOTE: if a plastic cutting board is not available allow the wrapper to soak for 10-15 seconds only (soaking too long can lead the wrapper to tear).
- Add a lettuce leaf and layer a few pieces of each carrot, cucumber and green onion for the filling approximately 2-3 inches from the bottom and in a rectangular pile. (⅙th of the ingredients for each summer roll).
- Next add avocado slices, some of the herb leaves and finish with 2-3 of the shrimp in a line (this will have them show through the wrapper on the finished summer roll).
- Using dampened fingertips, fold the bottom of the wrapper up over the filling. Fold each the right and left sides of the wrapper over vertically.
- Using firm pressure, gently roll the end with the filling over to snugly seal the spring roll. The wrapper is self-sealing so will stick to itself.Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling ingredients.
Making the Ponzu Sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir to fully combine into a sauce.
- 6 summer rolls (the yield may be more depending on the amount of filling ingredients)
- ½ cup ponzu sauce