..aka Summer rolls or more accurately, Gỏi cuốn, these little Vietnamese beauties are super-fun for younglings and still quite an exotic concept in the UK. They were staple lunchtime fayre back in our Australia days due to the proximity to South East Asia and its heavy influence in the region.
They’re a pretty healthy alternative to the ubiquitous sandwich, and well worth adding to your repertoire as there’s an infinite list of variations that makes them versatile and accessible for all.
The most challenging thing about this recipe is getting hold of the rice papers themselves – I’d head for your nearest Asian supermarket although some big chains are catching on and starting to stock them too. You’ll probably find them labelled as bánh tráng. I’ve just ordered some from Amazon of all places.
The concept couldn’t be simpler; just re-hydrate the rice paper in some warm water for 10 to 15 seconds, lay it flat on a plate or clean surface, top it with your favourite combination of flavours and roll it all up (as neatly as you can). Serve the rolls with a dipping sauce of your choice and prepare to be delighted by the clean, light and vibrant appeal of this delectable little dish.
Get the kids involved and you’ll be amazed by their intrigue and willingness to get stuck in. Imagine making a sandwich for the first time!
Ok, so you’ll probably find that there’s a bit of a knack to handling the delicate rice papers, but persist and you’ll master it in no time at all. The trick is to work quickly but calmly. They’re incredibly cheap so you won’t beat yourself up about the ones that you tear or throw across the room..
Here’s a classic recipe to set the scene.
(makes about 10)
- 100g vermicelli noodles
- 10 rice papers
- 10 large cooked prawns
- ½ carrot
- ½ chilli
- Fresh coriander leaves
- Place the vermicelli noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave them to stand for 15 minutes until softened (or follow the packet instructions), then drain.
- Meanwhile, wash and prep all the vegetables by slicing them into roughly even matchstick-sized pieces.
- Butterfly or halve the prawns along their length.
- Slide a rice paper into a shallow bowl/dish of warm water and leave it to soak for 10 to 15 seconds until softened.
- Carefully place the rice paper onto a board or plate.
- Lay a few strands of each ingredient on the rice paper. (Not too much – you’ll get a feel for how much will fit).
- Fold the side nearest to you over the filling.
- Fold the sides in.
- Roll away from you to close the parcel.
- The tacky rice paper will seal itself.
- If larger than bite-sized, slice diagonally across the middle and serve with a dipping sauce.
Variations to think about include pork (perhaps cold belly pork), avocado, fish, tofu, beansprouts, sugar snap peas, beetroot, peppers, shredded chicken, pea shoots, cucumber, lettuce, spring onion, any soft herbs you fancy – Thai basil or mint work really well. Try a few combinations and make them your own!
Here’s a top tip that I read about recently – to make it less fiddly, wrap all of your filling together in a lettuce leaf before placing it on the rice paper and rolling it up.
Hoisin, Soy, Kecap Manis, oyster, plum or Sweet Chilli sauces are all easy to buy in bottles, but you may like to try a simple homemade dipping sauce.
Here’s a quick authentic Nước chấm recipe that will take your taste buds to the next level.
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 small chilli
- 1 tbsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
- Place everything in a food processor.
- That’s it.
Pop a few slices of chilli on top if you’re feeling fancy.
Let me know how you get on!!!!