Vietnamese rice paper rolls are not fried, they are served fresh. Rice paper is soaked and packed with fresh herbs, vegetables and rice noodles and served with a gorgeous dipping sauce to create an explosion of taste. These work great as an interactive starter for a dinner party. The fillings can be prepared in advance and the guests can roll their own.
The spring rolls are best served on the day they are made and do not freeze well, but can be made a few hours in advance and stored in the fridge. Other fillings include fresh mango, smoked tofu, sugar snap pea pods or finely shredded cabbage.
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
50g rice or mung bean vermicelli noodles
6-8 lettuce leaves, finely shredded
2 carrots, peeled and grated or sliced into fine julienne
1 ripe avocado, halved, stone removed and sliced
fresh coriander, left whole
fresh Thai basil leaves, removed from stem
fresh mint leaves, removed from stem
toasted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped
1 pack of rice paper wraps
For the lime and chilli dipping sauce
1 tbsp grated palm sugar or brown sugar
4 tbsp hot water
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red or green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce or 1 tbsp tamari for gluten free
4 tbsp water
juice of 1 lime
Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and add the noodles, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse, allow to cool. Prepare the lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots, avocado and fresh herbs and place in individual bowls or separate piles on a plate or chopping board. Do not combine; the idea is to have lots of little bowls/piles of filling ingredients.
For the dipping sauce, stir the sugar into the hot water until it dissolves. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Place the rice paper wraps in a bowl of water, one at a time, for 15-30 seconds or until it becomes pliable, but not totally soft. Place the wrap onto a dry towel. Place 2-3 stems or leaves of each herb about 2.5cm (1 inch) from the bottom of the wrap. Top with a slice of avocado then add a small amount each of rice noodles, lettuce, beansprouts, carrot and chopped peanuts. Bring the bottom of the wrap up until it covers all the vegetables, then fold the sides in and continue rolling up as tightly as possible. The rice paper is quite forgiving. Place on a plate with the seam facing down to seal.
To serve, either leave whole or slice the rolls in half using a serrated knife. Place with one resting on the other, cut side up. Serve with the dipping sauce either on the plate or in a small ramekin.