At school in Vietnam, Charles Phan and his classmates would buy these chewy rice-paper rolls, filled with crunchy jicama and sweet shrimp, from enterprising street vendors who set up their stalls in the playground at dismissal time. Phan loves the neatness of including the sauce in the roll rather than serving it alongside, but he often makes extra for those who insist on dipping.
Plus: More Seafood Recipes
1/2 pound large shrimp—shelled, deveined and quartered crosswise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, minced
6 ounces jicama, peeled and cut into 2-by-1/4-inch matchsticks
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine, sake or water
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Fifteen 6-inch rice-paper rounds
1/2 head of red leaf lettuce, ribs discarded, leaves torn into 4-inch pieces
In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. In a large skillet or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until small puffs of smoke begin to appear. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over high heat until just pink, about 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil to the skillet. Add the shallot and garlic and stir-fry them until they are softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the jicama and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the stock, fish sauce and sesame oil and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the jicama is tender, but still slightly crunchy, about 4 minutes longer. Drain the jicama and add it to the shrimp. Let cool.
Fill a glass pie plate with hot tap water. Working with 1 at a time, soak each rice-paper round in the water until pliable, 1 minute; transfer the round to a work surface and blot any excess water with paper towels. Set a piece of lettuce on the bottom third of the rice-paper round, followed by 1 basil leaf, a rounded tablespoon of the Chili-Peanut Sauce and a few chopped peanuts. Top with 4 to 5 pieces of jicama and 4 pieces of shrimp. Fold up the bottom as tightly as possible, then fold in the sides and roll up the package, forming a tight cylinder. Set the roll on a platter and cover with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
The shrimp and jicama rolls can be assembled up to 1 hour before serving. Keep covered with damp paper towels and plastic wrap.
Jicama is a large, round root vegetable commonly used in Latin American and Asian cooking. Its crisp texture and subtly sweet flavor makes a great addition to salads and sandwiches. Since it doesn't discolor when exposed to the air, sticks of jicama work well on a raw vegetable platter. Look for hard, unblemished roots that feel heavy for their size.
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