Updated: Mar 10
Spring is just around the corner so I decided to give you something SPRINGY. Vietnamese Spring Rolls are one of those things you see in restaurants and think "I could never make that!". But I'm here to tell you, you can. Easy peasy lemon squeezy recipe that you can embellish and it's so fresh and wonderful... just like spring.
Ingredients for 12 Rolls
8 oz. of cooked rice vermicelli noodles or "rice sticks"
12 lettuce leaves (I think red leaf is pretty and tasty)
18 medium-large tail-off shrimp cooked and sliced in half
1 medium cucumber cut into 3 inch thin strips
1 red pepper cut into 3 inch thin strips
a bunch of fresh herbs minus the stems like mint, cilantro and Thai basil (pick what you like or use them all!)
12 8-inch rice paper wrappers (look in the Asian section of your grocery store)
Hoisin Peanut Sauce for Dipping
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
2 Tblsp chunky peanut butter
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp chili garlic sauce (if you like a little heat)
In a bowl, stir all dip ingredients together. Add a bit of water if it's too thick. Set aside.
Cook the dried rice vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. Rinse in cool water, drain and set aside.
Prepare all of your filling ingredients and place on one plate to prepare for assembly.
Add warm water to a large bowl. Quickly dip one rice paper wrapper in warm water for no more than a couple seconds. Lay on a flat surface such as a cutting board or your clean kitchen counter!
Start layering your fillings on 1/3 of the wrapper closest to you. Lay down your lettuce first, then the veggies, herbs, and the noodles.
Start rolling the wrapper over the fillings away from you, tucking and rolling the wrapper with your fingers, making sure all the fillings remain tight and round within the rice paper wrapper.
Roll spring roll until you have about 1/3 of rice paper left, then lay 3 pieces of shrimp, cut side up and finish rolling.
Voila! You did it! Now make 11 more.
Items available at The Pot Rack to assist in the making of this dish:
Urban Trend Handheld Mandolin Slicer
RSVP Pierced Sink Drainer
Helen's Asian Kitchen Siribachi Bowl
All of the Asian ingredients are generally available at your local grocer, but the Thai basil is sometimes tricky to find. I recommend you get all the ingredients, including the Thai basil, at Food for Less. Once you get the hang of it, add any veggies or proteins you like such as tofu or chicken.
A Little More...
It was around the year 2000 and I’d been working for the Food Network for about 5 years when our swanky studio in New York City was moved from a skyscraper on 6th Avenue across town to the neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen. Ironic, right? We were all a bit on edge about this move to the west side of midtown which at the time was not the overdeveloped mecca that it is today. It was a rough place. Especially if you were working late at night editing a show. What we did find out, very quickly, is that the take-out in the area was AMAZING! This was when I took a deep dive immersion course into Vietnamese cuisine.
The foods of Vietnam are what you might think; lots of fresh vegetables, noodles and seafood. But where the Vietnamese drift away from other Asian cuisines is with their unyielding effort to combine five fundamental tastes into all their dishes. This five-pronged philosophy includes sweet, salty, bitter, sour and spicy ingredients in everything they make. And holy smokes, is that a game changer.
These simple Spring Rolls are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the umami dishes of Vietnam, but it’s a great start. Use this recipe as a canvas to incorporate your own ingredients and try to include the five-pronged philosophy as you create. Items I often include are jalapenos, lime juice, tofu, fish sauce and mango. Stop by the shop and let me know what you came up with!