Cucumber-Shiitake Summer Rolls with Spicy Peanut Sauce


Photo by Michael Piazza / Styled by Catrine Kelty

Light and refreshing, easy to assemble and perfect for hot nights when cooking’s not your thing—these Vietnamese-inspired summer rolls highlight the season’s best sweet and crunchy cucumbers. They also make a nice year-round dish when made with hothouse cukes, either the tender little Armenian variety or the long slender English. You can wrap the rice paper however you like: folded in—to encase the filling neatly like a burrito—or with noodles hanging out on the ends like a cigar or cannoli. Either way, be sure to serve with plenty of napkins!

Makes 12 rolls

For the rolls
3 tablespoons neutral oil, like sunflower or grape seed
20 big shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1 package rice vermicelli
1 package 6-inch spring roll rice wrappers
6 thin-skinned cucumbers, julienned
1 cup whole cilantro leaves
1 cup whole mint leaves
1 cup whole basil leaves
4 scallions cut into 3-inch lengths and quartered lengthwise

For the sauce
½ cup crunchy peanut butter
1 clove garlic, grated
2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger or grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lime
1 red chili, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup water
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet heat the neutral oil and add the sliced shiitakes. Sauté, stirring, until softened and browning at the edges. Add the garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar and toss to coat. Continue to cook until the mushrooms have wilted down and are fully glazed in their sauce. Stir in some freshly ground black pepper, then taste and add salt if needed. Set aside.

Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions (usually by pouring boiling water over, letting sit 2–3 minutes, then rinsing in cold water and shaking in a sieve to drain well). Divide the julienned cucumbers and glazed mushrooms into 12 small piles so you have equal amounts for each roll.

Dip the rice wrappers 1 at a time into a shallow bowl of warm water and lay out on a board. Arrange some chilled noodles, a pile of cucumbers and a pile of mushrooms, some of each of the 3 herbs and 4 strips of scallion on each rice wrapper and roll up; transfer to a platter and repeat until you’ve made 12 rolls.

Stir the sauce ingredients together, seasoning with salt and pepper at the end. You want the sauce to be aggressively flavored as the summer rolls themselves are fairly mild. Serve rolls with dipping sauce as an appetizer or light lunch.

(If you have any leftover noodles and sauce, save them to toss together later with chopped vegetables, herbs and lettuce, some crispy onions and crushed peanuts as a refreshing summer salad.)

This recipe appeared in the Summer 2018 issue as part of a larger story on Cucumbers.