Lemon grass gives the chicken in these summer rolls a lemony fragrance with a subtle, less tart flavor than you would get from fresh lemon juice or rind.
Servings: 16 medium rolls
- For the dipping sauce
- 1 stalk lemon grass, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
- 1-inch piece ginger root, finely grated
- 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
- 1/4 cup water
- For the summer rolls
- 2 stalks lemon grass, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus oil for cooking the chicken
- 3/4 to 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened or sliced into cutlets
- 4 ounces snow peas
- 4 ounces rice vermicelli
- Sixteen 8-inch round rice paper wrappers
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and sliced into very thin strips
For the dipping sauce: Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
For the summer rolls: In a resealable plastic food storage bag large enough to hold the chicken pieces, add the lemon grass, mirin, oil and salt to taste. Add the chicken, seal the bag and turn the chicken to coat evenly. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours.
When ready to cook, have ready a bowl of ice water. Bring a small pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the snow peas and cook for 1 minute. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the ice-water bath to halt their cooking. When the snow peas have cooled, drain, pat dry and slice lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips each. Set aside.
In a large pan over medium-high heat, add just enough oil to coat the pan lightly. Discarding the marinade, add the chicken cutlets and cook, turning once, until the cutlets have browned and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the cutlets to a plate and set aside. When they have cooled, slice into long strips that are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
Meanwhile, boil a kettle of water. Place the rice vermicelli in a deep mixing bowl. Pour enough of the just-boiled water over them to cover. Soak for 10 minutes, until softened but not gummy, then drain.
To assemble: Fill a large bowl with hot water. Lay a clean dish towel on a flat work surface. Dip one rice paper wrapper in the water for about 5 seconds, until just barely softened yet still slightly stiff. (It will continue to soften as you assemble the wrap.)
Place 2 or 3 chicken strips down the center of the wrapper, leaving a 1-inch margin at each end of the wrapper. On top of the chicken, layer enough snow peas strips to lightly cover the chicken. Next, add a layer of rice vermicelli and top with a layer of lettuce strips. Pull one side of the rice paper tightly over the filling, folding over the two ends to form something that looks like an envelope, and then roll over the remaining portion of wrapper to form the roll. If desired, cut in half diagonally. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and fillings.
Serve immediately or cover the rolls with a damp cloth for no more than an hour before serving. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Adapted from former Food section recipe editor Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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