Spring Rolls, Egg Rolls, Salad Rolls...let's call the whole thing off!
Anyway, I love Vietnamese food, it's probably one of my favourite Asian cuisines. I love all the fresh, raw ingredients with lots of herbs and green stuff. I'd pick Pho any day over McDonald's! Unfortunately there aren't really any proper Vietnamese restaurants near where I live, so I have to make it myself. Sometimes the ingredients can be hard to find around here too. Today I was craving the fresh spring / salad rolls, which are actually pretty easy to make. They make a great appetizer, but I just made loads to serve as a full meal. It's gluten free too!
As you can see, my boyfriend and I made a boatload!! I'll also show you how to make two dipping sauces: Coconut-Peanut sauce and a fish-chili sauce. Both go so perfectly with the rolls and offer a nice flavour variety.
I'll state the recipe exactly with the quantity that you can see here. This is enough to make 22 rolls and we had a lot of leftovers, so if you want to make about 10 of them, I would cut this recipe in half. We just stuck the extras in the fridge covered with a damp but clean dishtowel, and will eat them the next day for lunch. They make a perfect packed lunch for school or work too.
Ingredients for the Rolls
22 Rice Paper Rounds
4 carrots, peeled and julienned
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed, julienned
1 bunch mint leaves
1 bunch Thai Basil leaves
200g Bean Sprouts
2 medium-sized chicken breasts
250g shrimp (fresh or frozen, if frozen, make sure to fully thaw before)
150g rice vermicelli noodles
Ingredients for the Peanut Sauce
250ml coconut milk
150g Peanut butter, preferably the natural raw kind if you can find it
1-2 tsp Red Thai Curry paste
1-2 Tbsp Asian Fish Sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Ingredients for Nuoc Cham sauce
1 Thai Chili, very finely chopped with the seeds left in
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 Tbsp Lime Juice
6 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 Tsp Sesame Seed Oil
Step 1: Make the rice noodles according to the package instructions, strain, then rinse well under cold water. Set aside in a sieve to cool completely.
Step 2: Get chop happy! Peel the carrots and slice into long thin strips. The cucumber you can do the same way, but make sure to remove the inside seeds with a spoon beforehand. You can either pluck the herb leaves whole from the sprigs, but I prefer to chop those up a bit too. Rinse your bean sprouts and set aside.
Step 3: Marinate your chicken and shrimp for at least 20 minutes, or preferably overnight. For the chicken I made a very simple marinade of soy sauce, ginger and garlic, and for the shrimp I added a bit of lemon juice, ginger and garlic.
Step 4: Cook the shrimp and chicken per method of your choice. Stove top is fine in a sauté pan, but I threw everything on my Weber BBQ. Tastes better in my opinion, but sort of nontraditional for this dish. But who needs tradition when you've got innovation? ;) Sizzle, baby!!!
Step 5: Right, time to make the dipping sauces! Let's do the peanut one first. There's so many different ways how to make a spicy peanut dip, and I have tried many recipes, some quite elaborate. While those are also tasty, I pared it down to my own simple recipe because it's so quick and easy. Throw the coconut milk, Thai curry paste, fish sauce, peanut butter and fresh lime juice (I used lemons because I didn't have any limes on hand) into a container of some sort...
...then grab a hand mixer and mix!!! Wheeee!!! If you don't have a hand mixer, a whisk would also do the job.
And presto! You're done with the peanut sauce. I told you it was easy! You can get all fancy-pants like me and garnish it with some mint leaves, or if you want to be even cooler, chop up some salted peanuts and sprinkle those on top. Oh yeah, Chef in the making here!
Step 6: Time for Sauce Numero Duo - the Nuoc Cham. In a small bowl, combine all the liquid ingredients including the sesame oil, then mix in the brown sugar and stir until it has dissolved completely. Then add the finely minced chili (1 is usually enough for most non-Asian people, if you like things very spicy try 2. Totally crazy? Add 3. Actually, 10!!! No, I'm kidding. I can't be held responsible what would happen to you.) Add the garlic and mix the sauce together. Done!
Step 7: Set up your work station in preparation for making the rolls. I like to put everything in little bowls or on a cutting board, and get a few helpers to join in on the fun. They don't wanna help? Tell them they gotta help if they wanna eat!! Slice the chicken into long, thin strips, and remove any shell left over on your shrimp. Also get a large bowl of water ready for soaking your rice papers.
These are rice papers I used but you can probably get generic ones that are just as good and maybe even cheaper at an Asian food market.
Step 8: Time to get crafty! Let's rollllll that yumminess up! Get one of the rice paper rounds, and carefully let it soak in the water. Depending on the thickness of the paper, this might take anywhere from 10-30 seconds. It should be soft and malleable, but not dissolving. I like to work on a clean plastic place mat that I've slightly dampened with a bit of water - that prevents the rice paper from sticking to your surface.
And here's my sort of haphazard rolling method. I'm sure some Vietnamese Great-Grandma would probably roll over in her grave if she saw my sloppy rolls, but hey gimme a break! I've basically never made these before!
I pile the ingredients in the centre of my roll - first the rice noodles, then the cucumber, carrots, and bean sprouts, then either the chicken or the shrimp, then the herbs on top. Or something in that order. Does it really matter?? Nah!
Then I fold the sides in first...
Then the bottom flap...
Then roll that shizzle up!! Try to get the roll as tight as you can without breaking the paper. It's actually a lot less fragile than it looks, rice paper has sort of a gummy, elastic texture.
My first roll!! The pioneer on the platter...
Well I'm hungry, so I'd better get back to work. I have a few more rolls to make.
Time to eat!! My favourite part of this entire process! :P
I hope you enjoy this recipe and try it out! It's actually not that hard to do at all! If you liked this recipe, please take a moment to share it on Pinterest.