Vietnamese-Style Spring Rolls

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes about

    25

    small spring rolls

Appears in

Spring rolls are very much a Chinese dish but, to my taste, the Vietnamese version is the best. They are made with rice paper wrappers instead of flour pancakes, and this renders them lighter and crisper. I like the traditional practice of wrapping the cooked spring rolls in a fresh lettuce leaf with mint, basil or fresh coriander leaves and dipping them in a spicy peanut sauce. Such spring rolls are a splendid opener to any meal. The rice paper wrappers can be found in Chinese or oriental grocers. They are dry and must be gently soaked before using them. Handle them with care as they are quite fragile. When deep-frying the spring rolls, do not crowd them in the pan as they tend to stick.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet rice paper wrappers
  • 450 ml (15 fl oz) oil, preferably groundnut, for deep-frying

Stuffing

  • 50 g (2 oz) bean thread (transparent) noodles
  • 50 g (2 oz) carrots, finely shredded
  • 100 g (4 oz) mangetout, finely shredded
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

To serve

  • 225 g (8 oz) iceberg lettuce
  • assorted sprigs of basil, mint or coriander, or a combination of all three Spicy Peanut Sauce

Method

For the stuffing, soak the noodles in a large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. When they are soft, drain and discard the water. Cut the noodles into 7.5 cm (3 in) lengths, using scissors or a knife.

In a large bowl, mix the noodles with the carrots, mangetout, spring onions, sesame oil, light soy sauce and rice wine.

To make the spring rolls, fill a large bowl with warm water and dip one of the rice paper wrappers in the water to soften. Remove and drain on a linen tea towel. Put about 2 tablespoons of the filling on each softened rice paper wrapper. (See drawings below.) Fold in each side and then roll up tightly. They will seal by themselves. You should have a roll about 7.5 cm (3 in) long, a little like a small sausage. Repeat the procedure until you have used up all the filling.

Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large wok until it is hot. Deep-fry the spring rolls, a few at a time, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve at once with lettuce leaves, herb sprigs and Spicy Peanut Sauce (see over).

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