Vietnamese Spring Rolls

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The Rangoon sets sail from Singapore on the South China Sea bound for Hong Kong β€” a journey that takes the travelling companions past Vietnam. The seas are rough and stormy, which slows their progress, but Fogg remains robust and focused. One imagines him eating a modest supper while fellow passengers wobble around him, green about the gills. These are simply rocking good rolls, first made for me to photograph (and then eat!) on the deck of my boat, Candy Coloured Tangerine, by the adorable Jody Vassallo β€” Australian expert on all things noodley and all food Vietnamese.

Ingredients

  • 100g/3Β½oz dried rice vermicelli
  • 8 dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 200g/7oz firm tofu, diced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • Β½ teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
  • A Small bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 12 round rice paper wrappers (approx. 22cm/8Β½ inches diameter)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chilli sauce

Method

Pop the rice vermicelli into a bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, or until soft. Rinse, drain well, and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Put the mushrooms into a separate bowl and cover them with 100ml/4fl oz of boiling water. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, or until soft. Strain the liquid into a container and put to one side. Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and cut the caps into fine slices. Put the tofu, ginger and five-spice into the mushroom liquid. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes, then drain, discarding the liquid.

Put the rice vermicelli, carrot, mushrooms and mint into a bowl and gently stir to combine.

Now you can prepare your rice papers and assemble the rolls, one at a time. This is how you do it. First, fill a shallow bowl with warm water and add the white wine vinegar. Take a rice paper wrapper and soak it in the vinegar water until soft. Put the wrapper on a flat, dry surface. Place a heaped tablespoon of the vermicelli mixture on the wrapper, along with a few pieces of tofu. And then you’re ready to roll! The easiest way is to fold the edges in to envelop your filling slightly, and then gently roll up the parcel.

When all your rolls are ready, make a dressing by whisking together the hoi sin sauce and chilli sauce.

The rolls can be served fresh or you can deep-fry them in hot oil until crisp and golden. Serve with the dressing in a bowl, the better to dunk the ends into.