These Shrimp and Pea Sprout Summer Rolls with Quick-Pickled Jicama are loaded with sweet spring pea sprouts, crisp veggies and herbs, and juicy pan-seared shrimp. They’re quick and easy to make, and perfect for a light lunch.
Vietnamese in origin, summer rolls (Gỏi cuốn, or sometimes called fresh spring rolls) are endlessly varied but usually contain a cold protein (pork, chicken, shrimp, and tofu are popular), crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs, and rice vermicelli noodles. A dipping sauce is usually served alongside; our favorite is spicy peanut sauce. We’ve made many different kinds of summer rolls in my house, but these Shrimp and Pea Sprout Summer Rolls stand out: they were proclaimed THE BEST EVER summer rolls by my family.
What you need to make Shrimp and Pea Sprout Summer Rolls
With just a bit of veggie prep and some freshly-seared shrimp, your healthy spread of ingredients is ready for making summer rolls. If you are short on time, you could use pre-cooked, peeled, and deveined shrimp – but you will miss out on a lot of flavor from searing raw shrimp in peanut oil. And they only take six minutes to cook. In these summer rolls, the ingredients are simple – so use only the best!
You can also use pre-cut vegetables, as long as you select shredded or julienne cuts. Long and thin slices work best, since they fit nicely in a rice paper wrapper.
Making quick-pickled jicama (and carrots)
One of my favorite parts of this summer roll recipe is the quick-pickled jicama, with a few carrots added in for color. I love quick-pickling. Once you learn the basic formula for the sweet-salty-acidic brine, you’re going to want to try pickling all sorts of vegetables this summer.
I make my quick pickles in Mason jars. Just mix up the brine ingredients right in the jar, heat briefly in the microwave, add your vegetables, seal, and shake. Leave the jar near you as you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients, and give it a brief shake every so often to redistribute the brine. In just 20-30 minutes, you’ll have mildly-pickled jicama and carrots. They keep well in the refrigerator if you want to keep some on hand.
Using rice paper wrappers
Summer rolls are wrapped in Vietnamese bánh tráng, or rice paper wrappers. Bánh tráng are round, semi-opaque sheets of rice flour, sometimes supplemented with tapioca flour. When dipped in water, a wrapper quickly softens and forms a thin, somewhat stretchy sheet. The wrapper sticks to itself when moist, so sealing your summer rolls is easy.
Rice paper wrappers look thin and delicate, but don’t be intimidated! Once you’ve made a few rolls, you’ll get a feel for how much they stretch, where to place your fillings, and how much to put in your rolls. You might even get really creative and place your ingredients strategically on the wrapper, so you can see the variety of colors and flavors inside.
Tips for making summer rolls easier
- Prep your fillings in advance to help make assembly easier. Mise en place is a must with summer rolls.
- Rice paper wrappers can be softened by dipping a single wrapper in a pie plate or wide dish filled with warm water. Alternatively, you can run a rice paper wrapper under water for about 10 seconds. Make sure all surfaces of the rice paper wrapper are wet.
- Don’t soften your rice paper wrapper completely before placing it on a plate for assembly. It will soften as you add the summer roll fillings, and will be just the right consistency when you’re ready to roll.
- To help your rice paper wrapper peel off the plate more easily, wet the plate with a few drops of water before you lay it down.
- Don’t go overboard on the amount of filling in your summer roll, or you won’t be able to roll it closed.
Once you’re rolling with these summer rolls, make your own creations
Once you try this recipe for Shrimp and Pea Sprout summer rolls, go have fun and experiment with your own ingredients! One of the best things about summer rolls is variety. I use summer rolls as a way to use up bits of fresh, crunchy veggies in my refrigerator. When making your own summer rolls, I would suggest these guidelines:
- Slice your vegetables in long, thin slices, or matchsticks, when possible. These shapes allow you to line up your ingredients on the paper more easily. And your summer rolls will have a little bit of everything in each bite.
- Follow the formula, and include an ingredient in each of these categories: crunchy, salty or salty-sweet (pickled veg), spicy, cool (mint, cucumber, pea sprouts), herbal (basil, cilantro), and protein.
- This recipe doesn’t have a dipping sauce, but dipping sauces can be wonderful additions to a summer roll! Think big flavors like silky smooth peanut sauces, or spicy gochujang mixed with some rice vinegar and sesame seeds.
Leftover summer roll ingredients? Make a “summer roll in a jar” for a quick lunch.
Whenever I make summer rolls, I seem to have leftover veggies, noodles, and sauce. And whatever protein I used, if I’m lucky. So I pack a Mason jar with layered leftovers and create a great-looking salad for the next day. The trick, as with any Mason jar salad, is to layer the ingredients in the right order:
- Add sauce first. Put that on the bottom.
- Crunchiest veggies, the ones that won’t wilt, and then protein if you’re including it.
- Rice noodles
- Softer veggies and herbs, like cucumber, avocado, cilantro, mint, or basil leaves.
- Crunchy toppings like sesame seeds, furikake seasoning, or anything else that you’d like to stay dry.
And if you have leftover summer rolls? You can pack them in a lunch. Keep them in a sealed container to prevent the rice paper wrappers from drying out, and use a basil leaf or a few pieces of cucumber or cabbage to hold them apart. Moist rice paper sticks to itself pretty easily, as you now know from making your own summer rolls!
Fresh summer rolls might look difficult to put together, but I promise, once you’ve rolled a few, you’ll want to create your own combinations with all the fresh produce that’s right around the corner.
Shrimp and Pea Sprout Summer Rolls with Quick-Pickled Jicama
For the Quick-Pickled Jicama
- 2 cups jicama cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 carrot cut into thin matchsticks
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/4 cup fish sauce or nam pla
- 1 tsp agave nectar
- dash red pepper flakes
For the Shrimp
- 18 large raw shrimp peeled and deveined, tails removed
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
Fillings and Other Ingredients
- 12 fresh basil leaves chiffonaded
- 6 fresh mint leaves chiffonaded
- 2 cups pea sprouts roughly chopped
- 6 Vietnamese summer roll wrappers, or bánh tráng
Make the Quick-Pickled Jicama
In a quart-size Mason jar, combine lime juice, fish sauce, agave, and red pepper flakes. Stir.
Microwave this brine mixture on high for 2 minutes. Be careful, the jar will be hot.
Add jicama and carrots to the jar, seal tightly, and shake to coat with brine. Let stand while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Cook the shrimp
Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add peanut oil and wait for it to get shimmering hot.
Carefully add shrimp to the skillet in a single layer. Cook for 3 minutes on the first side.
Flip shrimp, and cook for 3 minutes on the second side. Remove from pan immediately.
Slice shrimp in half lengthwise (as if to butterfly them) and set aside.
Assemble the summer rolls
Dip one spring roll rice paper wrap in warm water for 10 seconds, or run under warm water. Put a few drops of water on a large plate, and put the soaked wrapper on top. (The rice paper should be somewhat firm; it will soften as you assemble the roll.)
On the lower third of the rice paper, make a small mound of pea sprouts (about 1/4 cup of sprouts for each roll.)
Sprinkle sprouts with basil and mint leaves.
Add a line of pickled jicama and carrots.
Place three or four shrimp halves on top of the vegetables.
Starting at the side closest to you, fold up the edge of the rice paper wrapper, stretching it a bit until it just goes over the filling.
Fold up one side of the rice paper wrapper toward the center of the roll. Repeat this step with the other side.
Roll the summer roll away from you, toward the last open side of the wrapper. Carefully lift from the plate, and place on a board or moistened plate. Keep rolls separate to avoid sticking.
Pea sprouts are available in spring. I found mine at an Asian market. Although they are just the right length to include in a summer roll, the stems can be stringy. Roughly chopping shortens them a bit and makes them more pleasant to eat.
Nutrition information is estimated and provided for informational purposes only. Statements within this site have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration.