Vietnamese Spring Rolls
THEME: #152 ASIAN CUISINE
When Amrita who blogs at The Food Samaritan suggested Asian cuisine, we immediately knew that she wanted to challenge us to some south East Asian cooking and not the Sub Continent cuisine we all are so comfortable with. I jumped for joy as I immediately knew what I wanted to make.
I had been eyeing the rice paper ever since I had seen it at the supermarket in Montreal. Its ingredients like these that excite me the most as I don’t get them back home in Mombasa. So when did I see them? Last year! When did I get a chance to use them? For the #152nd FoodieMonday theme, all thanks to Amrita.
Yesterday hubby, my son, his girlfriend and I had gone out for brunch (brunches in Montreal are to die for), then we strolled around the surrounding area, had the opportunity to take darshan of Jagarnath as there was a Rath Yatra festival going on in one of the parks and see the Tam Tam festival which takes place every Sunday during spring, summer and autumn near the George Étienne Cartier monument in Mont Royal Park. Its a festival whereby drummers, dancers and vendors get together every Sunday, allowing people to enjoy some music and dance. Also while walking down the side streets, one cannot miss the art work. By the time we walked back, to near where we stay, our feet were aching but I insisted that I had to buy my ingredients for the rolls. Hubby kept on telling me forget it, make them tomorrow and I kept on telling him that I had to make them today, i.e. Sunday!
With aching feet we walked to the supermarket, got the rice paper, luckily got a ready made chopped mixed salad packet and got back home after resting in the park for a while. Since I had bought ready made salad, making the spring rolls was a breeze.
Vietnamese spring rolls are different from the Chinese or Indo Chinese spring rolls. They are such a great alternate to the fried version. The charming thing about making these rolls it that you can fill them with almost anything. Here are some of the fillings that you can use:
- boiled rice vermicelli
- shrimps, some pieces of fish, meat
- bean sprouts
- vegetables of your choice, like cucumber, zucchini, stay fried broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, cabbage, spinach, salad greens,chinese cabbage, etc
- fresh herbs like cilantro, Thai basil, flat parsley etc
My ready made salad had a mixture of grated carrots, purple cabbage and greens. I added avocado to it. After a heavy brunch we were not that hungry to add any tofu to it. If you’re going to use your own mixture of vegetables, make sure they are cut or grated in strips as that makes rolling them up easier. Also the total mixture of veggies added should be about 250g. If you’e going to use rice vermicelli, then the amount of veggies required will be less.
I seriously wonder who really writes the cooking instructions on food packages? Are they people who can actually cook? Has the packaging company actually bothered to follow the instructions to see if they work? I seriously think not! When I tried rolling the spring roll according to the instructions on the package, it just didn’t work. The rice paper did not get soft (it suggested I dampen a towel and lay the paper on it) and putting the filling in the middle was utterly a stupid idea. I couldn’t roll it up and the rice paper was not soaked enough, using their instructions.
Next as all foodies and food bloggers do, follow your instinct and know how. I dipped the rice paper in a bowlful of water and also placed the filling just 2 inches away from the bottom part of the square, along the width of the rice paper. And rolling the spring rolls became a breeze.
Some recipes that I checked out suggested that I spread the sauce on the rice paper before adding the filling, some just rolled them up without the sauce. Hubby suggested that I don’t spread the sauce as one can add how much they want when having them.
The sauce that is usually served with these spring rolls is a watery fish sauce called nouc cham. Since I wanted to make a vegetarian option, I made a peanut sauce. Again there are so many variations as to how to make it. I made one that suits the taste buds of my family. However, make a dipping sauce of your choice.
Coming to the rice paper, traditionally they were made by spreading a thin rice batter on bamboo mats and dried. These days factory manufactured ones are made using both rice and tapioca. You can get them in various sizes and also they can be round or square in shape. The rice paper is dipped in warm water to rehydrate it and make it more pliable.
How to roll a spring roll…check out this video.
These rolls are a great option as an appetizer or starter. Good healthy option for take away lunches or picnics too. Many sites I visited suggested that rolled up spring rolls stay for 3-4 days in the fridge. If you don’t add any vermicelli, its a great low carb, gluten free meal.
VIETNAMESE SPRING ROLLS
For the spring rolls:
16 medium size rice papers
250g finely chopped salad (use a mixture of your choice)
1 large or 2 small avocados, peeled and sliced
For the peanut sauce:
½ cup peanut butter (I used a crunchy one, but you can use a smooth one)
½ cup warm water
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2-3 tbsp chili sauce
½ tsp salt (add only if your peanut butter has no salt)
2-3 tbsp lime juice
Preparation of the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a small pan over low heat.
- Add the garlic and ginger. Sauce for a few seconds.
- Add the peanut butter, water, chili sauce, soy sauce to the pan.
- Take the pan off the heat and stir the mixture to mix well.
- Add lime juice, mix and keep the sauce on the side till required.
Preparation of the spring rolls:
- Dip one rice paper in the water.
- Place it on the worktop.
- Add your filling to the bottom side of the paper at least 2 inches away from the rim.
- Cover the stuffing with the 2 inch flap.
- Fold in the right and left side of the rice paper.
- Roll it up, making sure its not too loose or too tight.
- Repeat steps 1-6 with the remaining paper and filling.
- I first layered out the salad leaves, added the grated salad and then topped it with the avocado slices.
- Serve the rolls with the sauce. In this really hot weather I found that the chilled ones tasted so much better.
- Add a filling of your choice.
- Once the rice paper is hydrated, its quite tricky to handle it.Please watch the video before you start making the rolls. Check out the link mentioned above.
- Chunky vegetables will cause the paper to tear.
You may want to check out some other Asian recipes:
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