Please excuse the quality of the photos I'm using here since they're from my SLR, converted to digital and a couple of years old. I still haven’t taken new photos, usually because I’m too busy making and devouring these delicious morsels.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls are fresh, crispy and make a perfect light meal.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
· 9 rice paper rounds aka Bánh Tráng, rice paper wrappers, spring roll skins
· 3.4 oz (about half a pkg) rice vermicelli aka rice noodles and rice sticks
· 30-40 medium shrimp peeled, de-veined, cooked and halved (optional)
· 10-12 leaves or so of lettuce - green leaf, red leaf or romaine
· 1 carrot -peeled and julienned
· 1 cucumber - julienned
· 1 daikon (a Japanese radish) -peeled and julienned
· 1 large avocado - peeled and sliced
· 1 bunch watercress
· A couple of handfuls of mung bean sprouts
See suggestions at the end of the post for additional options
Here's my mise en place.
I like to have everything cut and ready to go once I began rolling. First I take the rice noodles and put them in a bowl. They are very thin and crunchy. I then pour some hot water (boiled on the stove top in a tea kettle) on top to soften them, about ten minutes. (Note: If you are cooking your own shrimp you can use the leftover, already warmed water to soften your noodles.)
Once they are soft, I then stop the cooking process by draining them in a colander and rinsing with cold water (this also helps when I have to handle them in a minute). The rice noodles are in the clear bowl in the picture above...the white indistinguishable mess.
For the rice paper I use a jelly roll pan because I like to have space to maneuver the wrapper around. I've also used a large dinner plate and a large bowl with warm water, whatever you have handy. The skins only need to soak for a few seconds just to soften up the wrapper and make it pliable (but not mushy). Once this happens I place it on my work surface, in this instance it's a cookie sheet. I've also done this on the back of a jelly roll pan, a large dinner plate and on a really clean counter; whatever works.
Because I'm all about presentation I put the shrimp down first because this is what you will see through the top of the roll. Again, this is just my personal preference. Some people like to have everything chopped up and just thrown in and if I was short on time I'd probably do that too (okay, I probably wouldn't but I'm just saying you could, no worries).
Then it's just a matter of what ingredients you have and what you like. I prefer to bite in and have the shrimp and avocado right next to one another so that's what I add next.
Then I pile on the
veggies. I just tear up the watercress and lettuce leaves (and any herbs
I might be using) and I julienne (cut up into matchstick strips) the carrots,
cucumber and daikon. Again it's just a matter of how you like to cut up
your veggies, I certainly didn't cut them all uniform and perfect but nice easy
strips to be able to chop into and break off without having the whole thing
come out when I go to chew, I hate that.
Note: daikon is a Japanese radish that I've found in a lot of stores even here in Podunk. It resembles a parsnip (but does not taste like one) but is white, may or may not have the greens on top and isn't as tapered. They are yummy and here's a snapshot of some...
After throwing in the vegetables, including the washed mung beans, I add a bit of the rice noodles. Nothing is really measured and I add and subtract the amount of an ingredient and specific ingredients depending on who is going to be eating them.
Then I roll. I do one good tight roll (the wrapper is pretty malleable but do be careful of holes and tears) then fold in both sides and continue to roll, just like when I make enchiladas.
See how pretty. There really isn't any seasoning to them that comes with whatever sauce you decide to use. I've made a peanut sauce, a pumped up hoison sauce, and a chili fish sauce but usually I use my old standby of soy sauce (tamari) and wasabi.
Suggestions: These can be made with any mix of veggies and herbs and with or without a protein or even the rice noodles. Some other possibilities for the protein include: chicken, crab, tofu, etc. Sometimes I add basil, mint, radishes, sugar peas. Pretty much anything goes. I prefer to keep it light and crisp with a bit of a bite that's why I like daikon and watercress in mine.
I find a majority of these ingredients at my local market (in a town of about 1500). If your market has an Asian section (even a couple of shelves like mine) you can usually find the rice noodles, rice paper wrappers, tamari and wasabi paste or wasabi powder. I have to go fifteen minutes to the Safeway in the next town to get the daikon and they have everything else too.
These are really
versatile and can easily be vegan depending on the ingredients you choose to
use. It's also nice because they are gluten-free, especially if you use
the wheat free tamari like I do.
Since Daddy doesn’t like the rice paper he just gets all of the other ingredients tossed together as a salad with the wasabi tamari as dressing.When I first started making these, I didn't find a lot of information on them, however, now when I did a search to let you all know, there were so many hits with lots of tips and fillings and sauces and there are even some videos for the visual learners out there. So take a chance, try them out, have fun and more importantly...enjoy!!!