Rice Paper Salad Rolls, Shrimp and Pork with Lime and Garlic Dipping Sauce

Gỏi Cuốn

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Take note of the cross-thatched pattern on the rice paper. In Vietnam artisans make the rice paper by steaming rice flour batter on cloth over a caldron of water boiling over a fire of burning rice husks and peanut shells. The sheets are sun-dried on bamboo mats that create the pattern, a sign of hand-craftsmanship.

The rice paper is quite simple to work with once you’ve practiced with a few sheets. In Vietnam they eat them quite chewy, only rubbing the rice paper with water and never submerging in water as I recommend below. Make sure to only dip in water briefly, so they still have some bite. They are quite versatile: restaurants across the country are wrapping fillings that include grilled chicken and salmon. Try wrapping up other fillings yourself; such as vegetable slaw and grilled chicken.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. Dried rice vermicelli
  • ¼ lb. (113 g.) Lean pork, such as loin or leg, one piece about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) thick and 3 inches (7.5 cm.) long
  • 15 small shrimp, deveined with shell still on
  • 20 to 25 leaves (2 heads) Green, red, butter or bibb lettuce (divided use)
  • 1 medium cumber, Kirby variety preferred, bite size julienne strips, about inch (0.3 cm.) thick
  • 2 cups Bean sprouts, trimmed
  • 15 Chinese chives, trimmed
  • 1 cup Perilla (Vietnamese mint) or mint leaves
  • 10 to 15 Round rice papers, 10 inches (25.4 cm.) in diameter
  • 15 sprigs Cilantro sprigs
  • 15 sprigs Perilla leaves sprigs
  • 1 recipe Vietnamese peanut sauce (tương đậu phọng) or Lime dipping sauce (nước chấm)

Method

  1. Prepare the Fillings: Soak the rice noodles in room temperature water until softened, about 30 minutes; drain. Boil soaked noodles until cooked through, 20 seconds to 1 minute depending on manufacturer and thickness of noodles. Immediately rinse with cool water, drain and reserve. In small saucepan, submerge pork in simmering water; gently cook until well-done through to 150°F or 65°C; plunge into ice water for 10 minutes. Remove, and cut into small slices, about ⅛ inch (0.3cm.) thick. Cook the shrimp in simmering salted water until just done, about 3 minutes. Cool in ice water 5 minutes. Shell, devein, and halve lengthwise. Rip 15 large tender 3 to 4-inch (7½–10 cm) pieces of lettuce without ribs.
  2. Set up for rolling: Fill a large mixing bowl or shallow basin that is wide enough to fit rice paper with warm water. Keep some boiling water handy to add to the bowl if the temperature drops below 100°F or 37.8°C. Choose an open area on the counter and arrange the lettuce, cucumbers, cooked noodles, bean sprouts, chives, pork and shrimp.
  3. Make the Rolls:
    • Dip a sheet of rice paper in the water for a few seconds. It should remain somewhat firm. Transfer it to a clean work surface. Set the fillings onto the bottom third of the sheet: a 2-inch × 3-inch (5 cm. × cm.) piece of lettuce 6 strips of cucumber, about ¼ cup noodles, 6 bean sprouts, and 2 to 3 leaves of Vietnamese mint.
    • Begin to roll as if you were creating a burrito: fold rice paper from bottom over the filling, making sure rice paper is taught, then fold in each side to encase the fillings, but don’t roll more than one turn up. Once you have the filling encased, then lay down two slices of pork, a single Chinese chive leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm.) protruding off one edge and roll a turn. Next, place two shrimp halves, bright colored side facing down (so that the shrimp can be seen through the rice paper). Now roll up the rest of the way. Repeat with remaining sheets and fillings.
  4. Prepare Table Salad: Arrange remaining leaves of lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts and Vietnamese herbs on a serving platter, adding any needed items.
  5. Serving the Rolls: The guests places a lettuce leaf in the palm of her hand, lays a roll on top of that, and adds items from the table salad. She will fold this into a convenient shape, dip it in the sauce, and eat it out of hand.
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