Next to its famous cousin, phở (Vietnamese rice noodles soup), the rice paper roll is probably one of the other more well-known Vietnamese favourites. In general, the spring roll-like combination of rice paper, salad, noodles, shrimp or pork is rather bland which I take it to mean – uber healthy! There’s not a single drop of oil used in this recipe, and everything in it is either boiled or steamed.
All the yumminess lie in the dipping sauce – Nước chấm – which is generally a concoction of fish sauce, lime/lemon juice/vinegar, sugar and optional aromatics like garlic and chilli.
Rice paper comes in stiff round sheets which is softened in a shallow dish of hot/warm water and then placed on a clean tea towel for some rolling action. The filling ingredients are kept simple and fresh. In this shrimp roll, I used carrots, lettuce, cucumber, coriander, cooked shrimp and cooked rice noodles. When there’s too much filling, it gets tricky handling the now sticky rice paper and the strands of rice noodles or lettuce that insists on sticking out…The key is to not over-fill and leave enough space around the sides of the rice paper for folding and rolling.
It’s a great entrée to serve at dinner parties, or as canapés or snacks. The good thing is that the rolls stay fresh covered with a damp cloth for a few hours, so it’s a great dish that can be prepared ahead of time.
Ingredients for rice paper roll:
– rice paper
– julienned carrot
– coriander leaves
– shredded lettuce
– julienned cucumber
– cooked shrimps (split in half)
– handful of cooked rice noodles
Basic Nước chấm:
Makes ¾ cup
3-4 tablespoons lime/lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
2 ½ tablespoons fish sauce
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 or 2 birds eye chilli, finely minced
Combine all the ingredients together, taste and adjust accordingly. There should be a good balance of tartness and sweetness. Once you’re happy with the sauce, add garlic and chilli and let the sauce sit for at least 30 minutes.