This is a little bit old school, but they are still flavours and textures that are hard to beat on a summer day. It is the type of food that is great to make ahead and share with friends at a party or shared table or barbecue.
Today I have made them with some beautiful Canter Valley Free Range Duck breast, but you could easily use Prawns (leave out the Hoisin sauce) or – leave them deliciously vegetarian. Spicy peanuts, a little chilli and sesame oil, and lots of fresh Asian herbs are the basic elements that make the salad and Rice Paper Rolls sing, finished with simple dressing or sauce, it is the kind of food I love to eat and would be very happy if someone made to share with me.
Cool healthy and delicious, the rolls take a little time but you are rewarded with the simplicity of presentation and taste, they are a great repetitive job to do together while chatting with friends or just zoning out in the heat.
My biggest dilemma today was whether to add a dipping sauce or not for the rice paper rolls. I’m not the biggest fan of shared dipping bowls, so I tried to make them tasty enough that they didn’t need any. While I had felt I achieved this, when we sat down and ate them they were better with a little sauce spooned over. I have since seen photos of them served in baby cos leaves which would look and taste great, and add a means of dressing them without adding the hazard of sauce spilling down your best or even your worst dress – I didn’t have any baby cos lettuce today, so no photos of that at this point.
VIETNAMESE RICE PAPER ROLLS
Makes approximately 20 rolls
These amounts are just approximations so feel free to add in or take away as you like
- 1 packet of rice paper (I chose small ones)
- 2 small bundles Bean thread vermicelli, or kelp noodles
- Fresh herbs left whole – a mix of any of these is good mint, coriander, vietnamese mint, thai basil (use what is availiable to you)
- 1 Red Pepper
- 1/2 Cucumber
- Cup Mung bean sprouts
- Snow peas
- Optional Mango or pineapple ? (I haven’t tried pineapple but I’m sure it would be amazing)
- Fresh Ginger
- Peanuts – 1 cup for salad 1/2 cup for rice paper rolls (actually I say make double – they will disappear today or be great on any number of salads over the next couple of days)
- 2-21/2 tablespoons Asian chilli oil (I love the ones with the crunchy chilli flakes still in – salty and delicious, but not crazy hot!)
- Two or three damp tea towels to use under rolls as you prepare them and under and over finished rolls until you are ready to serve them.
- Optional 2 Duck seasoned with five spice and served with hoisin sauce. Cooked and cooled.
- Optional Prawn tails marinated in the chilli and ginger. Cooked and cooled.
RICE PAPER ROLLS – WITH OR WITHOUT DUCK OR PRAWNS
First coat your peanuts with the chilli oil and roast or toast, until crunchy and golden brown – test for seasoning and add salt if necessary. At this point add a good microplane grating of fresh ginger to the peanuts and then give it all a rough chop.
Next in a medium bowl place your clear noodles (approximately 1/2 packet) and cover with boiling water – leave them for a few minutes to soften and then drain and leave to cool.
Slice your red pepper,cucumber snow peas and mango (or pineapple) into batons about 1/2 the length of your rice paper.
Clean and prepare the herbs into individual leaves and set aside with the mung bean sprouts.
Slice your duck breast if using, or, if using prawn tails, slice these lengthwise in half and put to one side with the vegetables, herbs, peanuts and noodles.
Fill a wide shallow bowl with cold water to soak the rice paper wraps in.
Set this all in an assembly line with a baking tray or large plate lined with a damp towel and another to cover the rolls as you prepare them.
PREPARING RICE PAPER ROLLS
You need to make the rolls one at a time to ensure your rice paper keeps a manageable texture.
Begin by putting your rice paper into the bowl of water, it will take a few seconds to soften, take it out when it is soft enough not to break but not completely flaccid.
Place on a damp towel and assemble a piece or two of all your ingredients in the centre spreading a line of hoisin on the duck( if using) or down the edge of one of your vegetables.
I then pull the top and bottom sides to the centre and roll end to end – if your rice paper has got to wet this will be difficult so just take the filling and try again its just a matter of trial and error.
For the dipping sauce we simply mixed equal quantities of hoisin sauce and soy sauce and spooned a small amount down the length of the rolls.
VIETNAMESE NOODLE SALAD
- 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- Optional – 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons Japanese rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar – coconut sugar or nectar/ maple syrup/ honey…..
- Teaspoon grated ginger
- few drops of sesame oil
- Noodles, herbs, vegetables and peanuts prepared as for rice paper rolls
- Green leaves and any additional vegetable you may want to add
In a large bowl firstly prepare your dressing. Whisk together the first six ingredients – you can adjust the seasoning to your taste at this point, you do want a strongly flavoured dressing to carry through the salad.
Toss through all the other salad ingredients saving some of the peanuts etc to garnish.
Serve now or cover and set aside in the refrigerator until later.