Wrap & Roll: Asian Flavors for Summer


This July, the crisp crackling of lettuce, mint, and lime leaves filled the kitchens at the San Francisco Cooking School. Chef Rachelle introduced SFSU students to two refreshing recipes in the summer heat. Balancing the flavors behind Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups, students mixed ground chicken with roasted rice powder, kaffir lime leaves, and fresh lemongrass to create a dish that balanced smokiness, acidity, and plenty of herbal flavor. While these ingredients might seem hard to find, Chef Rachelle explained how San Francisco’s range of Asian markets makes the components easily accessible.


Also, the students learned to prepare fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls and perfected their rice paper rolling skills after dicing a rainbow of fresh vegetables into matchsticks. Making a delicious peanut dipping sauce was simple with a base of grocery store peanut butter. After enjoying a post-class feast, the students felt inspired to explore new ingredients and flavors thanks to Chef Rachelle’s enthusiasm and curiosity.


Thai Lemongrass Chicken Lettuce Cups

27783526634_4b2bcd7e71_oPhoto by Chef Rachelle

I love Thai flavors! This recipe is an easy way to introduce some of the most popular ingredients in Thai cooking. Since many ingredients may be new to you, I added a section at the bottom of the recipe for notes about finding and preparing these exciting ingredients. Have fun! Chef Rachelle  

1 pound ground chicken (or turkey),

2 stalks fresh lemongrass*, peeled & finely minced

3 lg. kaffir lime leaves, finely minced*

1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce (Asian Chili sauce)

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1-2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon roasted rice**, ground (or powder)

1 green onion, minced

6-8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped, or to taste

12 mint leaves, finely chopped

2 heads butter lettuce, washed, leaves separated


Garnish: Sliced green onion & sprigs of mint

Shrimp or Lentil Crisps to serve (Asian chips)

Yield, apx. 3 cups. Serves 6 as a first course or 12 as an appetizer  
  1. Heat a medium frying pan on medium high. Cook chicken in 2 tablespoons water, stirring constantly until just done. Drain well and add warm chicken to a medium bowl with lemongrass and lime leaves. Stir to mix and set aside to cool.
  2. After chicken is cool add Sriracha, lime juice, and fish sauce and mix well. Stir in roasted rice powder, green onions, cilantro, and mint. Taste and adjust lime, fish sauce or herbs as needed. Serve cold or at room temperature on top of a bed of lettuce leaves. Garnish with green onions and mint leaves. As an appetizer, scoop onto mini lettuce cups or place on a decorative platter with lettuce leaves and crisps.

*    Notes: Lemongrass is a long yellowish stalk. Cut about an inch off the bottom and cut off the top 1/3 of the stalk. Peel away outer layers until you reach the purple rings, remove those to find the small tender core. Mince well. Kaffir lime leaves are found in the freezer of most Asian markets. Remove center vein and stem. Freeze any remaining leaves.


** To make roasted rice, place ½ cup rice in heavy pan over medium heat. Cook until dark brown and then cool. Grind in a spice grinder or buy pre done roasted rice powder at the Asian Market

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Shrimp and Peanut Sauce

28051393693_ec3357ae26_oPhoto by Chef Rachelle

Makes 30 appetizer pieces or 10 full size rolls 

10 large dried rice paper rounds, 12 inch                                 

4 ounces rice stick noodles, boiled for 1 minute, drained, rinsed  

2 teaspoons sesame oil

20 medium cooked shrimp (31-40 size) peeled, cut in half lengthwise

6 medium shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

5 red lettuce leaves, ribs removed, leaves cut into 3 inch pieces

3 scallions (green part only), julienned

1 large carrot, peeled and finely julienned or grated                           

1 cup bean sprouts

½ cup mint leaves, washed and dried

½ cup cilantro sprigs, washed and dried


Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce (see recipe below)


  1. Toss noodles with sesame oil. Working with only 2 or 3 dried rice paper rounds at a time, dip the rounds in a shallow bowl of warm water and spread them out on a damp, clean kitchen towel or thick paper towels. Allow the wrappers to sit for 1-2 minutes to soften.


  1. Place one wrapper on a work surface. Place 4 shrimp halves on wrapper, pink side down, one inch from bottom of the wrapper. Top with piece of red lettuce on the lower half of the wrapper, leaving ¾” borders on the sides. Place a small amount of the shiitake mushrooms, rice stick noodles, scallions, carrot, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and one or two cilantro sprigs on top of the lettuce. Fold each side in and begin to roll up from the bottom. Continue to roll tightly and lay seam side down until the rolls are complete. Cover finished rolls with a damp paper towel as you go. Just before serving, cut each roll in two or three pieces or serve whole. Serve with the Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce.

Note: Rolls can be assembled up to 4 hours in advance. Cover with damp paper towels and wrap loosely in plastic wrap.

Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce             Yield: About 1 cup                                             

¼ cup hoisin sauce                                           

2 Tbsp creamy style peanut butter

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon sugar            

1 Tbsp chile paste (Sriracha or Sambal)

⅓ cup water

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon minced garlic


Place all ingredients into a heavy bottom small sauce pot, bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until thickened. Cool to room temperature or chill completely before use.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *