These are my version of Vietnamese spring rolls, which are traditionally made with both pork and shrimp. Light, fresh, and—best of all—transportable, they are, to my mind, more satisfying than the fried version.
6 ounces thin rice stick noodles (vermicelli), softened in hot water,
cooked until just tender, rinsed under cold water and drained,
and cut into 3-inch lengths
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
3/4 cup fresh Thai holy basil or sweet basil leaves, finely shredded
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Spicy Lime Dressing
3 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1 to 2 small jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
24 round rice paper wrappers (about 8 inches in diameter)
1 to 2 heads Boston lettuce or 1 large head leaf lettuce, leaves
separated, rinsed, and dried, and tough center ribs trimmed
1 pound medium shrimp, poached in boiling water until pink, peeled,
sliced in half lengthwise, and deveined
Spicy Sweet-and-Sour Dipping Sauce (Nuoc Cham, see below)
1. In a bowl, combine the noodles, carrots, basil, and cilantro. Add the spicy lime dressing and toss lightly to coat.
2. Fill a wide shallow pan with hot water and spread a dish towel out on a work surface. Dip a rice wrapper in the water for about 3 seconds until softened and place on the towel.
3. Place a lettuce leaf on the lower third of the rice wrapper. Spoon a scant 1/4 cup of the noodle mixture onto the lettuce, arrange 2 shrimp halves next to each other, and roll up into a cylinder, tucking in the ends as you go. Place the roll on a platter and cover with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with remaining rice wrappers, noodles, and shrimp. Serve with the sweet-and-sour sauce or peanut sauce for dipping.
Makes 24 rolls
This is one of the most often used sauces of the Vietnamese repertory. Nuoc cham (as it's known in Vietnam) can be served with spring rolls, salads, grilled meat, soups, and stir-fries. I like to make it with fresh lime or lemon juice.
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
1-1/4 cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons grated carrots
In a medium bowl, soak the crushed red pepper in the lime juice for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and garlic and stir to dissolve the sugar. Just before serving, add the carrots. Refrigerated, in a covered container, the sauce will keep for up to 5 days.
Makes about 2/3 cup
Deliciously Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp, and Savor
by Nina Simonds
Photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer
Hearst Books, an Affiliate of William Morrow & Company, Inc.
1997, Hardcover, US $21.00
Recipes & photos reprinted by permission
This Archived Page created between 1994 and 2001. Modified August 2007
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