Soak the rice vermicelli in warm water to cover for 15 to 20 minutes and drain. In a large pot of boiling water cook the noodles for 2 minutes or until al dente, stirring to separate the strands. Drain, rinse with cold water and shake dry in a colander.
Fill a small shallow dish with warm water. Immerse one sheet of rice paper in the water and let stand until pliable, about 45 seconds. Transfer rice paper to paper towels to drain. Transfer drained rice paper to a work surface. Lay one piece of lettuce over the bottom third of the rice paper. Arrange 1 tablespoon of the rice noodles, 1 tablespoon of the shredded carrot, some bean sprouts and 2 mint leaves, end to end, on the lettuce leaf. Roll up the paper halfway into a cylinder and fold both sides of the paper over the filling. Lay 2 shrimp halves, cut side down and end to end, along the crease. Place several coriander leaves along side the shrimp. Continue to roll the rice paper into a cylinder, pressing the edge against the cylinder to seal. Place the roll, seam side down, on a plate and cover with a damp towel. Make more summer rolls in same manner with remaining ingredients. The prepared rolls will keep, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap, for up to 3 hours.
In a small saucepan heat oil over moderately high heat and cook the garlic and chili paste for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, sugar and water, whisking until smooth. Simmer for 2 minutes or until heated through. If necessary add additional water to thin sauce to desired consistency. Pour sauce into dipping bowl and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve summer rolls with dipping sauce.
Recipe courtesy of Gourmet Magazine