Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vietnamese Fresh Vegetable Spring Rolls

This is my favourite packed lunch. I love a light lunch at the office because a heavy tummy would make me sleepy and I cant really take naps in the office, can I?

Traditionally, cooked shrimp or tofu is added to this roll but I do prefer the vegetarian variety. I love how the different colours make this a very attractive dish and it does taste good too!

1 package rice paper wrappers (bahn trang)
1 head green leaf lettuce
1 bunch cilantro (leaves and tender stems)
1 bunch thai basil (optional)
1 carrot, grated
1 cucumber, julienned thin
1 package mung bean sprouts
1 package very thin, round rice noodles (vermicelli)


1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the rice noodles for a minute, then drain them and rinse in cool water.

2. Wash and slice the vegetables and lay everything out on a cutting board or counter. You'll need a plate for wrapping the rolls. The lettuce leaves should be sliced into manageable strips, and discard any of the cores that are too tough or crunchy. The basil and cilantro leaves can be left whole or coarsely chopped.

3. Fill a large bowl with hot water to soften the rice paper wrappers. Do this a piece at a time. Don't be surprised if you ruin a few wrappers before getting it just right. Submerge a single dry wrapper in the warm water completely. (You have to soften and wrap the rolls one at a time.) For the first few, keep your fingers on the edges and feel the wrapper as it softens and begins to turn transparent. It may help you to count-off the seconds so that you know how long it takes for the following wrappers--the ones I used took between 30 and 40 seconds to get just right. Once the wrapper is very supple, gently lift it out with both hands. It will get sticky quickly, so take care not to let it fold in on itself. Place the wrapper flat on the plate.

4. Put a little of each filler item into the wrapper. You should create a little oblong mound of filling items just to one side of the center of the wrapper on the side closest you. It may take one or two to get the quantities just right.

5. Wrap the roll up by taking the edge closest to you and flipping it up over the little mound of filling. Gently roll the filling up until you've just past the halfway point, then pull the sides in and roll it the rest of the way.

There are several options for the dipping sauce. A quick one can be Thai sweet chillie from the bottle with a dash of fish sauce. Sometimes I just prefer a simple soy with a dash of wasabi.

Alternatively, just add crushed peanuts with hoisin sauce and some chillie oil.

Dip recipe:

1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
a dash of chillie oil

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