Monday, 13 October 2008

Vietnamese spring rolls

One of the dishes I missed terribly when I first arrived in Britain was the Vietnamese spring rolls (also sometimes called summer rolls in English). You can find them everywhere in France. Most of the Chinese restaurants serve Vietnamese food over there.
So When I saw spring rolls on the menu of a Chinese restaurant in England I gladly ordered them; however I was in for a huge disappointment as I ended up with deep fried vegetable filled chinese rolls. Horror!! So there, I decided to make my own..
The other thing I miss is the Vietnamese nems, but these are deep fried so I won't be making them since I can't stand deep frying smells in my dear kitchen (which has no window)...

It's a healthy, fun, and tasty starter. You can get the guests to roll their own for fun if they have never tasted them before, They'll love that! And you don't need to cook anything, which is the super bonus. You can have them as a starter or as a main...

You will need:
Vietnamese rice paper

You will need for the filling:
- Prawns (pre-cooked and de-veined)
- Optional: dried Chinese Black mushrooms that you will have soaked earlier - I personally prefer without
- crystal noodles (also called vermicelli) that you will have soaked in warm water for 20 min.
- beansprouts (if you have time, cut the dry ends)
- lettuce leaves
- grated carrots
- fresh mint

You will need for the presentation and to eat with it
- more lettuce leaves and mint

For the dipping sauce:
- 1 tablespoon Nuoc Mam (the Vietnamese fish sauce, very different from the Thai one)
- 2 tablespoon lime
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- crushed peanuts
- a little bit of finely chopped garlic
- a little bit of finely chopped red chili
- some grated carrots for presentation

Dip the rice paper individually for 5 second in a plate of warm water. in another plate, fill on one side of the rice cake and as a line with: lettuce leaf, then mushrooms, noodles, 2 leaves of mint, beansprouts, and a bit of grated carrot; a bit further and parallel (in the middle of the rice paper in fact), place 2 prawns.
Start rolling from the filling (not the prawn side) side of the rice pape, roll tight, and when you reach the prawns. fold the sides of the cake perpendicular to the filling lines. When you have finished rolling, you'll notice that the roll stays in place since the rice cake is a little sticky.
Put aside and roll the next one.

Be careful when you roll as the filling (especially the beansprouts if they are fresh) can tear the rice cake as it is a little fragile. Make sure you don't dip the rice cake too long or it will become too brittle.

I did not take photos of how I rolled them, so you can see the live action in a video I found on youtube (In french but who cares, you don't need the sound).

Serve the rolls with the green leaves and the dipping sauce (just mix the ingredients).

Et voila, it's fresh and lovely, and easy to put in the bento or bring to work for a healthy tasty lunch!

The ones on the picture I made with some cooked chicken instead of shrimp for a friend who can't eat seafood, but it's honestly not as good!

I am expecting some great comments from Marjolaine to improve the recipe: she's a champion of Vietnamese spring rolls according to a gourmet spy friend of mine...

Source: many + my own experimentation with them...


Marjolaine said...

Looking at them is wanting to eat them. Nice spring rolls Christelle !
Personnally, I'd rather do it without black mushrooms and vermicelli, but instead, I'd use thin sliced precooked pork meat.
But it's upon your own taste, you can roll whatever you like.

Christelle said...

Yes, I'm not so keen on black mushroom either, that's why I made them optional...

Parker said...

Thanks for the tip on the photography. I have not been able to get use to the lighting in the new house yet, the apartment had such better lighting. But yes I will check the white balance and see if that does not help. Great blog, and I too love vietnamese spring rolls.

skinnymum said...

this is my all-time fav viet dish. recipe looks doable by my klutzy standard. will try it soon, and keep you posted on the outcome.

thanks for sharing.

ochikeron said...

Hi christelle!!!

I love those spring rolls, too! I just had those yesterday at a Thai food restaurant.

I know how you feel when the fried ones came out :( That can happen at a Chinese restaurant in NY (where I used to live). But there were a lot of Thai food restaurants there though!!!

Have you ever been to vietnam? or Thai? I wish I could try Vietnamese food in France! I didn't know that those spring rolls are popular there!!!

Christelle said...

Parker: Thanks for the comment! :)

Skinnymum: good apetite, they are
easy :)

Ochikeron: Thai restaurants don't serve them either in restaurants!
Also because Vietnam use to be a French colony, there are a lot of Vietnamese people there, and most of the the Chinese restaurants are in fact all Chinese/Vietnamese :)
So the French are well acquainted with Vietnamese food, it's a favorite! :)
I have visited Thailand, and one of my next gatsro-holiday will be Vietnam indeed! :)

Kevin said...

Those spring rolls look good. I like all of the green in them.

Christelle said...

Oh yes very healthy indeed!

mycookinghut said...

J’adore les nems!! I once made some vietnamese spring rolls too! And I agree with you on trimming the dry/brown ends of beansprouts, I prefer to do this too.. make them look cleaner

Christelle said...

I spotted your article ages ago, your photos are beautiful!
watch this space, I've got a nem recipe that I will make soon :)))