Cocktail Pairing: Summer Rolls and Zen Gardens

June 26, 2015 -- Published by

Using complementing flavors and ingredients is the first step in creating a fabulous cocktail pairing, so today I’ll be showing how to make one of my favorites using herbs and veggies from the garden in summer rolls, paired with a Zen Garden cocktail from the MixBook!


The first thing you’ll need for the summer rolls are some fresh herbs and veggies from your cocktail garden. Don’t have a cocktail garden? Take a look at this post to help you get started!


For my rolls I decided to use a variety of ingredients from the garden including: sweet basil, green onions, mint, cucumbers, dill, and mixed greens along with some alfalfa sprouts I picked up at the store, but you can really use anything you want- don’t be afraid to get creative!


The most important thing to remember about making summer rolls (or any dish really) is the classic French phrase “mise en place” which translates to “putting in place” or having everything ready before you begin. Once you soften the rice paper for the rolls, you will have a limited time to get everything in there and roll it up before it becomes sticky and hard to work with, so you want everything prepped and ready before you begin.


Prepare your shrimp according to the directions (or buy pre-cooked shrimp that you can just defrost), and slice them in half like this:


You’ll need 1 1/2 – 2 shrimp per roll, depending on how big you would like them to be (and how much you love shrimp!) so pat them dry with a paper towel after cutting and set aside in a bowl.


You will need to prep some rice noodles which you can pick up along with the rice paper wrappers in the Asian aisle of your local supermarket, or in any Asian specialty store. They are super easy to “cook,” simply lay them in a bowl and pour boiling water over top of them- enough to submerge them all. Wait a minute or two and stir them around with a fork until they feel cooked and taste one. It should be cooked all the way through and soft without any “al dente” hardness in the middle. Pour through a colander and put them immediately back in the bowl and fill with cold water to stop them from cooking any further. After they have cooled, strain them again and place a few paper towels in the bottom of the bowl before transferring to soak up any excess water.


To set up your rolling station, lay down a clean damp cloth napkin and make sure all your ingredients are within reach. Submerge one rice paper wrapper in bowl of warm water for about 15 seconds (I recommend holding it so you can tell the instant it is pliable and ready) then place on the cloth napkin. Add your shrimp first so that it will show nicely through the paper, and add all your other ingredients- leaving any loose leaves or small pieces on top. Fold the bottom section up over everything, then fold each side over and roll upwards:


The whole rolling process should take less than a minute (or the paper will get sticky!), but be careful not to roll them too tight or the paper may tear once it sets up. If the first one or two doesn’t come out perfect- don’t fret, you can always tear it apart and re-roll the ingredients in a new wrapper. Store your rolls in a baking pan lined with wet paper towels to keep them from drying up and cover in plastic wrap for up to 8 hours.


So what are the perfect accompaniments to summer rolls? I like to dip mine in duck sauce (also found in the Asian aisle with a bit of dried pepper flake for some heat), but you can use peanut butter satay sauce, or soy- whatever you prefer!


And of course no garden party snack should be without a cocktail pairing, and fittingly enough, the Zen Garden cocktail pairs perfectly with Clique Vodka, crisp cucumber, lemon and elderflower liqueur- See the recipe here in the Mixbook.


The key to this pairing is to have fun- so don’t be afraid to use different herb/veggie combos for each roll, trust me- they all go great with the Zen Garden!


Need a shopping list? Here you go:

From the liquor store: Clique Vodka, St. Germain

From the supermarket: lemons, cucumbers and sprouts (if you don’t grow them), shrimp, rice noodles, rice paper wrappers and dipping sauce! Easy as cake- but much better tasting!