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.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Shrimp
- 12 rice paper wrappers
- 3 oz vermicelli rice noodles
- 18 medium shrimp (cooked,peeled and deveined)
- ½ c carrots (shredded)
- ½ 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.