Vietnamese spring rolls are made using thin rice papers as the base, filled with vegetables, cooked meat and boiled rice vermicelli. These spring rolls are not fried like the regular Chinese spring rolls (Egg rolls). Fresh herbs are essential to the quality of these spring rolls. They are then dipped in a spicy tangy sauce and enjoyed as a light refreshing snack or an appetizer.
During my cooking class last weekend, I was introduced to these spring rolls by another instructor Ann who made them using pork and shrimps. When I asked her if I can make it vegetarian, I was met with a reply 'Yes but it won't be nice!' Well, obviously, she is quite ignorant of the culinary advances in vegetarian cuisine. But a participant in the audience quipped, 'But Ms Nilo, you are such an experienced cook. I am sure you can come up with a vegetarian version which would be equally or more delicious!'. What a wonderful accolade and appreciation of my cooking skills. Thank you Lucy, I really appreciate your compliment. It is a definite boost to my culinary confidence.
Grilled tofu strips will be good substitute for the meat. Remember, you hv to work quickly as the rice papers are very thin and will turn sticky quickly. It will be difficult to roll thereafter. These rice papers and hoisin sauce can be found in any Asian store.
Ingredients (for 6 spring rolls)
6 pieces of Vietnamese rice paper (see picture below)
6 pieces of lettuce leaves, medium sized
1/2 cucumber julienned
1/2 carrot julienned
50 gm rice vermicelli, boiled and strained
12 pieces of mint leaves
Ingredients for the Dipping sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 red bird's eye chilli
Ingredients for the Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp crushed peanuts
1) Get all the ingredients ready. From top left in clockwise direction - julienned carrot, julienned cucumber, lettuce leaves, mint leaves and in the centre, boiled rice vermielli.
2) Get the rice papers out of the packet and get a cutting board ready for the rolling.
3) Dip the rice paper in a bowl of water, lift and place it on the cutting board. Moisten the inside of the paper as well.
4) Place the mint leaves and the julienned carrot in alternate fashion on top. This is important so that end appearance of the rolls will be pleasing to the eye. Then place a lettuce leaf in the middle. Place strands of julienned cucumber and rice vermicelli on to the lettuce leaf. If you are also using tofu, place the strips here. Roll up this lettuce leaf.
6) Tuck in the sides of the soft rice paper. Be gentle as it can tear easily
7) Start rolling from the bottom, tuck inthe sides and finish rolling to the top.
8) Roll the others the same way. To make the dipping sauce, place the sugar, lime juice and soy sauce in a small bowl. Whisk them all together till the sugar dissolves. Add in the sliced red chilli and serve with the rolls. In another bowl, pour the hoisin sauce and top it off with crushed peanuts.