Vietnamese food is one of my absolute favorite cuisines. Whenever I cook Vietnamese food at home, I try my best to channel Mr. Lee whose restaurant my family frequented most Sunday nights of my childhood. There are two key distinctions to Vietnamese food (similar to Thai food):
1. An emphasis on fresh herbs including cilantro, basil and mint. Whether you’re making fresh rolls like I’m demonstrating today or preparing a beef noodle soup – the key is to incorporate fresh herbs. My husband loves to call the delicious platter of herbs that come with your dish “a small forest.” He has a point.
2. Spicy, Salty, Sour, Sweet. As with most Asian cuisines, you must incorporate the 4 S’s into any dish. It is quite simple – pick one ingredient in each category and you are on your way to a flavor explosion:
Spicy: chili garlic paste, sriracha sauce
Salty: fish sauce, soy sauce, salt
Sour: lime juice, rice vinegar, lemon juice
Sweet: brown sugar, white sugar, honey
If you’ve never made fresh rolls at home – I urge you to give it a shot. Don’t worry about making your rolls perfectly tight and secure. With a little practice, you will be well on your way to a tiny delicious fresh roll that Mr. Lee would be proud to serve.
Your taste buds are waiting.
If you've never made fresh rolls at home - I urge you to give it a shot.
- 12 rice paper wrappers
- 3 oz vermicelli rice noodles
- 18 medium shrimp cooked,peeled and deveined
- 1/2 c carrots shredded
- 1/2 c cucumber thinly sliced
- 12 sprigs cilantro
- 12-24 leaves mint
Bring a large kettle of water to boil - about 8 cups.
Prepare dipping sauce by combining all ingredients (soy sauce through chili garlic paste) in a small bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare fresh rolls.
To prepare shrimp, remove tail and slice in half horizontally. (This allows you to fill the rolls with 3 pieces of shrimp without making the rolls too thick.)
When water comes to a boil, place vermicelli noodles in a glass bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes then drain with cool water.
Place carrots, cucumbers, shrimp and herbs in small bowls - creating an assembly line. The easiest way to soften the rice rolls is to place boiling water in a shallow pie or cake pan.
When all of your ingredients are ready to go, soften one rice paper sheet at a time and place on a plate.
Working from the center of the roll, fill with cilantro, noodles, carrots, shrimp, cucumber and mint.
Fold the bottom over the top, tuck in each side, then continue rolling until tightly closed.
Place on a platter and continue rolling remaining 11 sheets.
Serve with dipping sauce on the side.