Rice is in the center of Vietnamese cuisine. It is grown throughout Vietnam and especially more condensed in Red River Delta in the north and Mekong River Delta in the south.
Rice plays such an essential role in Vietnamese cuisine that Vietnam has been described as a bamboo pole with a basket of rice at each end.
Indeed, rice is so abundant that Vietnamese made rice into other products such as rice wine, rice vinegar, rice cake, rice paper, and a variety type of rice noodles.
Summer Roll or Gỏi cuốn is a classic Vietnamese appetizer dish, which incorporates rice made products into it. It is like a portable salad roll, with lots of healthy vegetables, herbs, rice noodles, and protein wrap inside a sheet of rice paper.
My husband and I adore Vietnamese Spring Rolls. We order it whenever we have a chance to dine in a Vietnamese restaurant. Every time I had these exquisite little goodies, in my head, I wanted to make them at home. I even mentally listed out what ingredients to buy and what to do and not to do. Despite that, I have been procrastinating it, for a long time, for years to be exact.
At last, I decided to put this into action. I gathered all the ingredients and worked through my mental notes. So for our recipe today, we wrap lettuce, mint leaves, cilantro, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli, and shrimp in the translucent rice paper. And we also prepare a homemade peanut butter hoisin sauce as its scrumptious dipping sauce.
The Vietnamese Spring Roll is light and refreshing. Does not matter how many you eat, there is no guilt at all. It is a perfect dish for this summer.
6 ounces of rice vermicelli
16 rice paper (banh trang)
1/2 head lettuce
1 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup of bean sprouts
1 cup cilantro
For the shrimp:
1 pound shrimps, peeled and deveined
A pinch of salt
For the dipping sauce:
1 tablespoon oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon Sambal chili paste
1 cup reserved shrimp stock
In a pot, bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add salt and the shrimp. Cook on high heat until it turns pink for about 2 minutes. Take them out and run through running water to stop cooking. Reserve 1 cup of shrimp stock. Slice the shrimp in half. Put aside.
To make the dipping sauce: in a pan, add the vegetable oil, and the garlic and cook over low heat until aromatic for about 1 minute. Then transfer in the peanut butter, hoisin sauce, Sambal chili paste, and stir fry for about 1 minute. Then add the reserved shrimp stock. Continuously stir until thoroughly combined.
For the rice vermicelli, presoak in water for 10 minutes. In a pot, bring water to a boil. Add the rice vermicelli and cook on high heat until al dente for about 4 minutes. Since we presoaked the rice vermicelli, it should require only half of the cooking time based on your packet’s instruction. You could also try the noodles before taking it out. Take it out and cool down in running water to stop cooking. Drain. Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut it shorter. Set aside.
To assemble the roll, prepare a plate of warm water. Dip 1 sheet of rice paper in it until it feels soft and elastic for about 30 seconds. Then put it on a flat surface. Flatten it out with your palm. Add ingredients into 2 tiers. First add lettuce, mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, and rice vermicelli in the middle. Toward the top, add 3 slices of shrimp, pink side down. Add just enough of ingredients and do not overfill it. Fold the sides of rice paper toward the center. Roll the bottom side up. Tuck the fillings in as you go. Make it tight and firm but do not tear it up.