Friday, June 19, 2009

A "Twofer" for Tyler Florence Fridays: Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce & Cucumber Lychee Sake

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays, I have a little Asian fusion going on, combining this month's optional "Megan's Challenge" pick, Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce and my pick this week, Tyler's Cucumber Lychee Sake. Apologies first for the fact that my picture taking "mojo" wasn't working so well with both of these items--since I didn't get to them until last night after dark, the lighting was a bit bad for the sake drink and my patience was wearing thin by the time I got to the rolls. In any case, you can rest assured that they both tasted great!

Starting with the Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce, I was happy Megan picked these for the challenge as in the warmer months, summer rolls are a favorite light dinner of mine. Although I have made them countless times, this is the first time I have ever flavored the ingredients inside the rolls thanks to Tyler. I have always counted on the dipping sauce; (chili or peanut) to add the bulk of the flavor besides the herbs in the rolls, but (Duh!), Tyler has you add lime juice and sesame oil to the noodle-veggie-peanut mixture and it makes a world of flavor difference. I switched out some of the ingredients in Tyler's recipe for things I like/had on hand, (see Notes/Results below) and I also added some cooked shrimp.

This recipe is from Tyler's Food 911 and the recipe can also be found at the Food Network site (here).

Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
Food 911, Tyler Florence
(Makes 20 Rolls)

3 ounces Vietnamese cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 cups bean sprouts
2 carrots, julienned
1 large beet, julienned
1 fresh red chile, cut in circles
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, hand-torn
3/4 cup chopped unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 lime, juiced
Sea salt
20 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers
40 mint leaves

Put the cellophane noodles, vegetables, cilantro and peanuts in a large bowl; toss with sesame oil and lime juice to give the filling some flavor; season with salt and pepper.
Pour 3 cups of hot, not boiling water in a large shallow bowl. One at a time, immerse the rice paper wrappers in the hot water for 10 seconds to soften, then place on a slightly damp towel. The rice paper is very delicate, don't soak them any longer or they will break apart. Keep them covered while you work to prevent them from drying out and curling.

To form the rolls, lay a rice paper wrapper on a flat surface. Grab a small amount of the cellophane and vegetable mixture and lay it across the bottom third. Use less filling than you think you should, if you overstuff the wrapper it will tear. Carefully fold the bottom of the wrapper up to cover the filling. Fold in the left and right sides, then tuck and roll it over once. Lay 2 mint leaves on top, then tuck and roll it over to close the whole thing up like a tight cigar. The mint leaves should show through the transparent rice paper. Arrange the finished rolls on a platter and cover with a damp towel.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal

In a blender, puree the rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, hot water, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and chili paste until combined. Pour into a small bowl and serve with the summer rolls.
Yield: 1 cup

Notes/Results: Terrific! As mentioned above, there is loads of flavor in these summer rolls, I found them even better than the ones I get in most restaurants. I reduced the recipe down and made about 6 rolls. In addition to the cooked shrimp I put in, I added "the rainbow" with purple cabbage, red bell pepper, carrots, pea shoots, green onions, mint, cilantro, noodles and peanuts. Then I thought it would be fun to add some of my leftover sea asparagus for a little salty crunch, so I left out the salt, figuring it would bring enough to the mix. The chili dipping sauce, I left the same, other than a small shot of sesame oil, as I like it in my dipping sauce. These summer rolls are excellent, perfect for a warm night and so adaptable to adding what you have on hand. I make them just veggies sometimes or add shrimp, spiced ground meat, shredded chicken or tofu if I want them a bit heartier. Thanks Megan for a healthy, fun pick!

I watched Tyler make the Cucumber Lychee Sake on Tyler's Ultimate a few weeks ago and thought how refreshing it looked and how it combined flavors and ingredients I like. When I saw both fresh lychee and locally grown, seedless cucumbers at the Farmer's Market, the deal was sealed and I knew I had to make this drink. Tyler's recipe calls for canned lychee but I thought it would be fun to use local ingredients (ginger, cucumber and lychee) to make it really fresh.

This recipe can be found at the Food Network site, here.

Cucumber Lychee Sake
Tyler's Ultimate, Tyler Florence
(Makes 2 Servings)

4 long thin slices fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 English cucumbers, plus extra slices for garnish
1/2 cup sake
1/4 cup lychee juice, plus lychees for garnish

Make ginger simple syrup by combining ginger, and 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool. Peel cucumbers and cut half of 1 into thin slices. Puree the remaining 1 1/2 cucumbers in a blender. In a shaker, combine sake, pureed cucumber, ginger simple syrup and lychee juice. Shake to combine and serve in ice filled glasses garnished with lychee fruit.

Notes/Results: Exotic and delicious. The cucumber pairs nicely with the slight kick of ginger and the sweetly floral lychee. It is refreshing and one of those drinks you could keep drinking, forgetting there is sake in it. Because the drink calls for the juice or syrup that comes in the canned lychee, I threw in some of my fresh, pitted lychees when I pureed the cucumbers, which worked just fine. I found I didn't need all of the sugar syrup and used only about 1/2 in my drink and the ginger flavor still came through. Garnished with both the fresh lychee and thin slices of cucumber this is a great summer beverage. 

I liked both of these recipes and would make them again. You can see what the other Tyler Florence Fridays participants chose to make this week and what they thought of their picks by checking out the TFF site here.

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. looks delicious as usual Deb. I didn't the chance for a TFF meal this week, but I can't wait to see what everyone else made!

  2. Such a tropical and exotic evening! The summer rolls are awesome because of their adaptability. I've never had lychee but saw some in the supermarket near the apartment I'll be moving into in two weeks (I had to go scope out the food availability before I moved in), so I will be buying some soon.

  3. looks amazing you are such a good cook

  4. So glad you liked the rolls - they seem to be quite popular this week!

  5. The drink and the rolls look really good. One thing I can't figure. In Southeast Asia they don't soak rice wrappers. We used a brand I use at home and it did not require rehydration. Can't do that with the ones I buy here at home.

  6. Ooh, yum. Just love that Tyler boy. Not only is he cute, he can actually cook. Those rolls scream summer. I would be a little leary of trying the sake, but I guess I could "force" myself. :) Lovely recipes. And your picture taking mojo is still in tact by the way.

  7. I bet those went so well together! :) Looks yummy!

  8. Great cocktail party food and drink here. That sweet chili sauce would be so good.

  9. Wow, those shrimps are big and gorgeous!! Looks great :D

  10. I love sake and have been this drink recipe for awhile. I don't know if I can find sake and/or lychee locally though. I'm gonna have to try these summer rolls. They sound like the perfect summer lunch or dinner.

  11. Both look amazing! I have the summer roll wrappers in my pantry, so I want to make them soon.

  12. Love all the shrimp you packed into the rolls. I think I might try them with lots of shrimp!

  13. The summer rolls looks delightful and I love the flavors in the sweet chili dipping sauce. The Cucumber Lychee Sake is very intriguing - I would like to try that soon!

  14. The summer rolls look so delicious with the shrimp peeking through. And the Lychee Sake sounds so good and refreshing! I tried lychee for the first time today - so yummy!

  15. ooh I would never have guessed to pair cucumber with lychee but it does sound really refreshing!

  16. those rolls were good. that cucumber lychee sake really has me interested.

  17. Pretty drink! And I love that you added shrimp to your rolls, something I wish I'd done to mine.

  18. I love the big, fresh shrimpies in there. The crunchy purple cabbage is a great idea. When I buy one it takes weeks to finish one, I didn't think to put it in the rolls.
    And please send me a sake sipper. I haven't had fresh lychee in forever.

  19. what a colorful and healthy looking meal! I didn't get to make these, but I hope to get in on next month's challenge. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment.

  20. I love these summer rolls but the only time I tried making them, the darn rice paper wouldn't cooperate. Seeing your creations, I think I'd like to give it another try! And 'wow' on the cucumber lychee sake - that's totally new to me!

  21. Hi Deb,

    I just ran into your blog after reading your recent outing with Kat. I was just going to read through your fabulous recipes but decided that I might make a suggestion for you to consider for your summer rolls here. I've been making a special peanut sauce for awhile and it seems to be a crowd pleaser, so I thought I'd share it with you here.

    (1) Fish sauce:
    - fresh lime juice
    - garlic (cut into big slices so as to fish out later)
    - sweet chili sauce
    - water
    - sugar
    - fish sauce

    I've been making this recipe so long that I don't keep to measurements anymore. But, basically, boil/heat the above six ingredients until well-combined and tastes sweet/sour to you. Fish out the garlic.

    (2) Peanut sauce:

    - Creamy peanut butter (rec: Jiff)
    - Hoisin sauce
    - prepared above fish sauce
    - crushed peanuts (rec: put salted peanuts into ziploc bag and pound the heck out of it until desired "crushedness")

    Combine about 1/2-1/2 of the first two ingredients. Add prepared fish sauce to cut the thickness of the other two sauces. Microwave until warm and stir stir stir. Top with crushed peanuts.

    If you have a chance, give this a try with your summer rolls. (Sorry, I'm not a good recipe-writer, I just know what tastes good to me...hehe).


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