Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Whenever my in-laws visit I am always reminded of how delicious and comforting Vietnamese food can be. To be honest, I haven’t always felt this way. I remember my first experience with Vietnamese food being disappointing. I was overwhelmed by the menu, and a little concerned half the menu consisted of pork. But since I’ve started to attempt various dishes at home I’ve grown to love it. I love how fresh and clean the flavors are. Uninterrupted by heavy sauces, cream or layers of cheese. It’s just fresh and simple.

One of the first Vietnamese foods I learned to make at home were Vietnamese Spring Rolls. These are wonderfully refreshing on stifling hot summer days.

Serving size: 2-3 as an appetizer

6 rice paper wrappers
1/4 package of clear rice noodles cooked
1 shredded carrots
6  slices of cucumber
6 lettuce leaves
6 leaves of basil
1 bunch cilantro
6  Chinese chives
6 strips of chicken or shrimp (or both)

Pickled Carrot:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Assemble one spring roll at a time. Run each rice paper wrapper under hot water until barely soft (it will continue to soften once it’s been moistened). I’ll just keep the rice paper on a plate and run the plate/rice paper under hot water for 5 seconds and then assemble the spring roll on that same plate. In the center of the wrapper place a leaf of lettuce and small amount of rice noodles into a rectangular block. Top the noodles with shredded carrots a slice of cucumber (halved or cut into thin slices) and basil, cilantro, Chinese chives and chicken. The noodles and herbs should be in a rectangular shape for easier folding. Fold in the shorter sides and then roll the long sides to create a wrap. The rice paper is a bit delicate and tends to tear.  I like to use pickled carrots, it adds an extra bit of flavor – but I’m sure they would be fine with plain carrots as well. We will eat these with nước mắm a type of dipping sauce made out of fish sauce. But peanut sauce may be better if you’re not feeling adventurous enough to brave fish sauce.

Gut Reaction: always delicious especially on hot summer days.

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