I was on my way to the grocery store this morning when it hit me. I'm hungry for Vietnamese Spring Rolls (aka salad rolls).
I love Vietnamese cuisine. It was the first International cuisine to make a mark on my psyche as a young woman, living in Washington DC. Oh the phó we ate at a little joint in the Clarendon neighborhood of Northern Virginia. Sublime.
Anyhoo, I was hungry for salad rolls, so I made some.
Vietnamese Salad rolls (Gõi Cuón) with Peanut sauce.
The most difficult part is the peanut sauce. I'm happy with this recipe but it took a lot of tweaking.
3/4 c peanut butter (I used Adam's)
juice of 2 limes
1/4 c water (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tspn soy sauce
1 Tbsp chili garlic paste
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 garlic clove finely chopped and mashed with the side of a knife
1 tspn (heaping) brown sugar
1/2 tspn sesame oil
Mix all ingredients and beat vigorously with a whisk. Allow flavors to marry while you make the...
Salad Rolls (yield, four rolls)
Five rice paper wrappers (because one will tear)
2 oz rice vermicelli
eight shrimp cleaned, split the long way, tails removed
four chunks of pork belly, sliced thinly (optional -- I forgot to add it although I had pork belly made and ready to use -- silly me)
1-1/2 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
2 Tbsps julienne basil
2 tspns mint leaves
bowl warm water
Cook the vermicelli for 3 - 5 minutes. Strain and rinse in cold water. Slide onto a towel to absorb excess water. Separate into four bundles and chop slightly.
Wet a rice paper wrapper in a bowl of warm water for 2 - 5 seconds. It should feel soft and pliant. Lay on a flat surface, cutting board or a dinner plate.
Working quickly, lay four pieces of shrimp across the wrapper, just slightly closer to the top. Top with cilantro and basil. Top with one bundle of pasta.
Top the pasta with 1/4 of the lettuce and a few mint leaves. Bring the bottom up to the top and gently, using eight fingers, walk your fingers towards you, snugly tightening the oblong bundle. Fold the sides towards the center and finish rolling the roll. Set aside.
At lease one will tear. Either undo it and move the contents to a new wrapper or soak a wrapper and re-wrap the torn roll. It'll be a little tough but barely noticeable.
I used a recipe from AllRecipes.com to master the basics of spring rolls. Actually it's like rolling a joint but you close the sides. Like so...
She uses whole leaves of lettuce and pork (which I forgot). I like that she tightens the roll then adds the shrimp.
Either way, it takes practice. But even making peanut sauce from scratch, the entire recipe took me less than one hour.