If my memory does not failed me, I think this is my first Vietnamese recipe. The family celebrated my birthday last year in a Vietnamese restaurant and that is the first time i ate their spring roll.
It was delicious and I thought I might learn to prepare this at home. I bought a pack of the rice paper at Sheng Shiong Supermarket (Singapore) but I did not have the time to research for a recipe until yesterday. I am equally shocked that no 2 recipes are the same and there are tons of variation. In fact, it is a very easy appetizer to prepare.
Spring rolls is definitely not unique to Vietnam and Chinese have their own spring rolls and every regions has their adaption. The uniqueness or main difference of Vietnamese spring rolls is that their versions uses more of the uncooked herbs such as Vietnamese mint, Thai basil or normal mint. In addition, they used rice vermicelli that never appear in Chinese spring rolls. The vegetable green they used varies and can range from lettuces to bean sprouts to cabbages.
Is prawns necessary for the spring roll? Honestly, I doubt so that prawns are used traditionally. However, because of its unique attractive design with the addition of boiled prawns, that possibly is one of the factors that make it common overseas. I have seen some Vietnamese local recipes using shredded pork or beef and some do not even have any meat. Traditional recipe may have added pork belly slices but this is not covered in the recipe since my family members are not fans of pork belly slices.
Dips are important in this recipe and there are a few types of dips. What I am sharing here is the most simple and basic dips using fish sauce and common household ingredients. There are other dips such as the Hoisin sauce peanut dip or peanut butter dips which I may share the recipe in the event I prepare again.
In general, I am please with this trial and I found that my Vietnamese rice paper are rather small. Much smaller than the one I have at the restaurant. Therefore, quantities listed are for estimation and you can always increase or omit the quantities of a particular type of ingredients listed.
As per Wikipedia:
“Gỏi cuốn, Vietnamese spring roll, is a Vietnamese dish traditionally consisting of pork, prawn, vegetables, bún (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in Vietnamese bánh tráng (commonly known as rice paper). Some people believe that Vietnamese summer rolls originate from China since they are similar in form to Chinese spring rolls, Chinese biscuit rolls, and Chinese-American egg rolls. Others believe their origins are from Vietnam since the ingredients are different and they are served fresh while others are served fried, like the Vietnamese Chả giò.They are served at room temperature (or cooled) and are not deep fried or cooked on the outside. It is listed at number 30 on World’s 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011.These rolls are considered to be a very popular appetizer with customers in Vietnamese restaurants” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%E1%BB%8Fi_cu%E1%BB%91n)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: 3-4 adult servings
- 6 medium size prawns
- 200 grams of pork belly, cooked and sliced thinly (not in this illustration and optional)
- 100 grams of rice vermicelli
- 100 grams or 12 pieces of vietnamese rice paper
- 1/2 a small cucumber*
- 1 egg*
- 50 grams of beansprouts*
- Few sprigs of fresh mint*
* Vegetables or herbs that can be used: Garlic chives, coriander, lettuces, Vietnamese mint, Thai basis, blanched cabbages. Feel free to use your favourite salad vegetables and herbs
Fish sauce dips
- 5 tablespoons of plain water
- 2 tablespoons of white rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce or light soya sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 bird eye chillies (optional)
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Crack the eggs and lightly beaten, pan fried until it is a thin omelette form. Cut into small slices.
- In a pot of water, put a few drops of cooking oil and bring to boil. Add the bean sprouts and blanch for 30 seconds. Drain and set aside.
- Use the same water to blanch the rice vermicelli until soft which took about 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Use the same pot of water to blanch the prawns for about 1-2 minutes (depend on size). Drain and when cooled, shell the prawns, cut the prawns into halves and clean the prawns.
- Shred the cucumber into small pieces .
- Before assembly, you should have the above ingredients ready in a table together with the rice paper and a bowl of cooked water.
- For the sauce, just mix all the ingredients together, stir until the sugar dissolves. Feel free to adjust the taste by adding more of your favourite items.
- Take a piece of rice paper, dip in a bowl of water for one second. Take out and place it on a plate.
- Arrange 2-3 pieces of prawns, followed by some vegetable greens and herbs at the centre of the softened rice paper. Put some rice vermicelli and all the other ingredients.
- Fold both sides of the rice paper towards the centre, and roll from the bottom towards the other end as if you are rolling sushi. Put the spring roll in a clean serving plate and avoid touching each other as it may stick to other spring rolls.
- The spring rolls are best served with the dip prepared above as an appetizer before main meals.
Is it not this recipe is very simple and fast. It is full of variations and you can just add or omit ingredients that you do not like. Be prepared to throw away the first piece of rice paper as you are trying to get use to the wrapping. Do not be over ambitious by too much filling as it can be difficult to wrap. If the quality of the rice paper is not good and have a tendency to break, you can always use 2 pieces to wrap the fillings. Lastly, if you can prepare this simple appetizer, may be in your next dining in a Vietnamese restaurant, you can try other appetizer. ha-ha.
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