Vietnamese-style spring rolls
Cheap and cheerful midweek meal
These soft spring rolls are best eaten as soon as they’re rolled. At most, you can prepare them 5-10minutes in advance but if you leave them for longer, you’ll find the soft spring rolls start to tear or stick to your serving plate.
If you’re planning to serve these as a starter at a dinner party, prepare all your vegetables and meats and lay them out on a table. Have a few of bowls/plates filled with water so you can get everyone to ‘make’ their own wrappers and assemble their own spring rolls.
thebigfatnoodle’s not-so-secret special sauce
1 tablespoon ground nut or vegetable oil
½ teaspoon sesame oil
2 generous tablespoons of sweet chilli sauce
2 generous tablespoons of ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons of water
(optional) squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
Whisk all the liquid ingredients together until it’s emulsified into a dark, sticky sauce. In a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds until they’re nicely golden and tip them straight into your sauce. You’ll hear a very satisfying crackling sound as the hot seeds hit the cool sauce.
Ingredients (serves 2 for as a main meal)
8-10 dried Vietnamese spring roll wrappers (you get these in different sizes. Mine are 22 cm in diameter)
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned as thinly as possible
3-4 spring onions, cut in half and then finely sliced lengthways
10 cm length of cucumber, deseeded, cut in half and then thinly sliced engthways
1 big handful of bean sprouts
1 large handful of fresh mint
(optional) some fresh parsley or coriander leaves
½ to 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into thin strips
50 grams vermicelli noodles, cooked, drained and cut into shorter strands using scissors
Whatever leftover meats you have (eg roast chicken, pork, beef etc). A plan beaten egg fried and then sliced into strips is great as a stuffing too and if you’re vegetarian, try substituting meat with some marinated tofu or some fried tempeh.
I used 50 grams of boiled and shredded beef brisket which I’d kept as I had been making a beef stock earlier in the week. I added about 2 tablespoons of my special sauce to the boiled beef brisket and let it sit while I was preparing all the vegetables.
Making the spring rolls
Make sure you have a dish or bowl filled with enough water for you to soak the entire rice paper wrapper completely.
You’ll only need to soak the rice paper for about 60-90 seconds – it should be pliable but not too soft and floppy or else it’ll tear.
Place your softened rice paper on a plate for board and lay your meat/vegetables in neat rectangular pile on top of each other.
Try and make sure all the vegetables are lying down lengthways and leave about an inch space either end as you’ll need some rice paper to fold. Pour about 2 teaspoons of sauce over your neat little pile of meat and veg.
Fold the bottom edge of the rice paper over your constructed pile. Use your fingers to gently pull / squeeze the vegetables into the fold (you want a tight roll). Fold both outer edges inwards and then simply roll up the spring roll as tightly as possible (it’s pretty much like making a wrap). The tighter you roll, the less likely your spring roll will fall apart when you cut it in half.
Though my sauce is a dipping sauce, the stuffing in your spring roll can sometimes be pulled out if you dip the open end into the sticky sauce so it’s easier if you use a teaspoon to drizzle some additional sauce over your roll before you pop it into your mouth.
bigmonster’s how not to make a vietnamese spring roll