Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

..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.

Ingredients:

(makes about 10)

  • 100g vermicelli noodles
  • 10 rice papers
  • 10 large cooked prawns
  • ½ carrot
  • Lettuce
  • ½ chilli
  • Fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and prep all the vegetables by slicing them into roughly even matchstick-sized pieces.
  3. Butterfly or halve the prawns along their length.
  4. Slide a rice paper into a shallow bowl/dish of warm water and leave it to soak for 10 to 15 seconds until softened.
  5. Carefully place the rice paper onto a board or plate.
  6. Lay a few strands of each ingredient on the rice paper. (Not too much – you’ll get a feel for how much will fit).Vietnamese Rice Paper filling
  7. Fold the side nearest to you over the filling.
  8. Fold the sides in.
  9. Roll away from you to close the parcel.
  10. The tacky rice paper will seal itself.
  11. 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.

Dipping sauces

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Method:

  1. Place everything in a food processor.
  2. Blitz.
  3. That’s it.

Pop a few slices of chilli on top if you’re feeling fancy.

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Nuoc Cham

 

Let me know how you get on!!!!

 

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

Vietnamese Sweet Potato Curry

This recipe completes the set; 10 twists on Jamie Oliver’s 10 recipes to save your life. It has been an honour to share recipes for such an important cause. The concept is simple: master these basic recipes and you’ll be empowered to cook good, nutritious and delicious food for yourself, and your family. If you can learn to cook those dishes, you can easily extend your repertoire to a whopping 1oo dishes with our twists and tweaks.

Vietnamese curries are milder than Thai curries but you can always add extra chilli as a garnish if you like it hot.

This curry starts with a paste that will deliver the wonderful aromatic flavour – you could always buy a paste, but I like to do things properly.

Ingredients:

Vietnamese Curry Paste

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tough outer leaves removed
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 shallots, peeled
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 bunch coriander stalks
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or light brown muscovado
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp groundnut oil

 

Sweet Potato Curry

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tbsp Vietnamese curry paste
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 600g sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 200g green beans, halved
  • 1 handful of spinach
  • dash of fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • coriander leaves

Method:

Begin by blending the curry paste ingredients together.  vietnamese-ingredients

curry-paste

You can keep the spare curry paste in an airtight sterilised jar in the fridge or freeze it for future use.

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for a few minutes and then stir in 3 tablespoons of the curry paste.

Cook it out for a couple of minutes and add the sweet potato, palm sugar, fish sauce and coconut milk.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until the sweet potato is tender.

Taste the curry, you may want to tweak the flavour with a dash of fish sauce or sprinkling of palm sugar.

Add the green beans and spinach and cook for another 5 minutes until the beans are tender.

vietnamese-s-p-curry

I serve this dish with cauliflower rice, fresh red chillies, fresh coriander leaves and a wedge of lime, but it would work well with rice or even noodles.

You can add chicken to this recipe if you like, but to be honest, I really don’t think that it needs it.

Enjoy!