Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls
These spring rolls are a wonderful starter to any meal. Served chilled or at room temperature, they are always a hit.
The ingredients are approximate because you can vary them according to what you have in your fridge or what you like. And quantities are also approximate. It depends on how big your rice sheets are and how thick you wrap them.
Pay attention to the rolling technique!
For the rolls -
Rice paper sheets
Large shrimp – peeled and deveined
Shoulder bacon (or substitute with turkey ham or beef pastrami for non-pork eaters)
Rice noodles (either the thick or slim kind works)
For the peanut dipping sauce -
1 part hoisin sauce
1 part water
1 part salted roasted peanuts
1/2 part Shaoxing Hua Tiao Chinese wine
1/2 part sesame oil
I usually do 4 tablespoons of hoisin sauce, 4 tablespoons of water, 4 tablespoons of ground peanuts, 2 tablespoons of chinese wine and 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. That gives me about 2 cups worth of sauce and is enough to serve with about 10 rolls.
Make sure you buy a good brand of rice paper. I once bought some that were impossible to handle and turned hard after a few minutes. They were awful to bite into afterwards. This is my favourite brand of rice paper in South Africa.
The rice sheets look like this. They are very thin and are very fragile.
Start off by preparing the vegetables.
I like to add a little carrot strips for colour. Get one of these special peelers that cut finely julienned strips of carrots. They are incredible.
Slice spring onions into fine thin strips.
Cut some large slices of iceberg lettuce.
Get some fresh basil and mint. Use only the leaves in whole pieces.
Here are all the vegetable ingredients, ready to be rolled with the rice paper sheets.
Cook some rice noodles according to the package’s instructions. I’ve used both fat rice noodles and skinny ones with success. So it really doesn’t matter what kind you use.
Boil a large pot of water.
Cook the noodles in the boiling water.
Next, get some bacon. I’m lazy to slice fresh pork, so I use a good smoked shoulder bacon that are ready to use flat pieces of pork and has a wonderful flavour.
Pick the kind that are in large sheets with as little fat as possible.
Cook the bacon in the boiling water. Don’t cook for too long. Once they turn pink, remove them from the water.
I dump in the shrimp too. Yes, all in the same pot. It really doesn’t matter.
Cut off visble bits of fat from the pork and slice them into half to get long strips. Slice the shrimps horizontally into half.
Now we are ready to roll.
Prepare a large bowl of warm water. Not boiling water. Make sure you can dip your hands into it.
Slice a sheet of rice paper into the water. Count to 3 and lift it out. Do NOT soak the paper in the water. It should be stiff when you lift it out of the water.
Lay the rice sheet on a large plate. Don’t worry that it still feels stiff at this point. It will soften by the time you roll it.
Lay the shrimp first to create a curved flat surface that will look nicer when the roll is complete.
Add slices of bacon on top.
Add the lettuce. Then the basil.
Add the mint, carrots and spring onions.
Top with a small bit of noodles.
DO NOT OVER FILL THE ROLL. When there are too many ingredients, they make it really hard to roll nicely and the sides may break open. It’s better to make more rolls than distorted looking ultra fat rolls.
This is how you roll.
Lift the front part of the rice sheet over the ingredients. Tuck the ingredients in with your fingers.
Pull one side of the sheet over.
And then the other side.
Finish by rolling over the rest of the rice sheet.
Lay the spring rolls on a tray or plate and cover with a clean damp cloth or cling-wrap film. Keep them chilled in the fridge until ready to eat.
Now, make the peanut dipping sauce.
Add one part of hoisin sauce to a saucepan. I usually use 4 tablespoons.
Add one part of water. I usually add 4 tablespoons of water.
Add 1/2 part of sesame oil. I usually add 2 tablespoons.
Add 1/2 part of Shaoxing Huatiao Wine. I usually add 2 tablespoons. If you have no idea what this wine is, use this picture to find it in Asian stores. The 3 words in yellow says “Hua Tiao Jiu”, which means Hua Tiao wine.
Place the saucepan over a low heat and whisk gently to combine. When the sauce starts to simmer, it’s ready. Do not boil.
Set the sauce aside in a bowl and place in the fridge to chill.
In the meantime, place one part of salted roasted peanuts in a food processor. I usually use 4 tablespoons of peanuts.
Whisk the processor till the peanuts are finely ground.
When you are ready to serve the spring rolls, add the ground peanuts to the sauce and stir well to combine. The sauce is ready to use.
Serve the rolls with the peanut sauce.
The printable version of this recipe is here -
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