Some of you may not be familiar with these healthy little delicacies – so much lighter and punchier than their sibling, the fried spring roll! Imagine a jumble of crunchy, raw vegetables, aromatic Asian herbs and rice noodles, packed into an edible container (the rice paper). There are endless combinations of fillings you can use, just be sure to use nothing too sharp that will pierce the delicate rice paper upon rolling. Herbs play a huge part in Vietnamese cooking, so if you can get your hands on Vietnamese mint then it is a fantastic addition. If not, use a combination of herbs from coriander to mint to Thai basil. The trickiest part of this recipe is the rolling. However once you have mastered this you will be away! Enjoy!
TO MAKE: 30 MINS
SERVES: 5-6 PEOPLE
100g bean thread noodle or rice noodle
12 rice paper rolls (20cm wide)
18 prawns, boiled for 3 mins and sliced in half, longways
1/2 iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 carrot, grated
Half a cucumber, cut into matchstickswith seeds removed
Good handful Vietnamese mint (or normal mint)
Good handful of coriander, chopped
24 long chives
Handful bean sprouts (optional)
Nuoc Cham dipping sauce
1 clove garlic, crushed and finely-chopped
1 small red chilli, finely-chopped
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or sugar)
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup water
1. To make dipping sauce, simply mix lime juice, sugar and fish sauce and mix until sugar is dissolved. Add rest of ingredients, combine and set aside. The flavours fuse better at room temperature.
2. Next, soak your noodles in boiling water for about 2 mins, then drain. Use scissors to cut noodles into smaller lengths. Run under cold water and drain again, so it doesn’t warm up and wilt other ingredients.
3. Add all the other ingredients, except chives, mint and prawns. Combine thoroughly. I like to add two tablespoons of Nouc Cham sauce for flavour.
4. Next, fill a large shallow bowl or plate with warm water. Slide rice into water, ensuring the whole thing is covered. It takes about 30 seconds to soften. Gently remove from water and place on clean rolling surface.
5. Place two mint leaves across bottom third of rice paper, as in photo one (above). Take a small handful of filling and place across bottom third of the rice paper, as in photo two.
6. Next, bring the lower edge over the filling and roll once. Then bring over the two side flaps and and roll once more. Place three sliced prawns, orange side down, next to the roll and place chives over top, as in photo three.
7.Continue to roll until sealed, then chop off any excess chives, as in photo four. Serve with dipping sauce either as delicious lunch or light entree.
NB: You can use salmon, shredded poached chicken, duck, or sliced seared steak as a replacement for prawns or just go straight vegetarian with the likes of snow peas, courgette, asparagus when in season, cabbage or radish.