One of the best summer dishes are spring rolls: crunchy bundles of shrimp, herbs and other greens peek coyly through a transparent rice wrapper. Dip them in a bowl of peppery, garlicky fish sauce (nuoc mam pha san –no fish that I could tell! I like the Spring Roll Fish Sauce brand). Enjoy with a cold beer or glass of wine for a light supper.
Allrecipes.com has several spring roll recipes to try, as well as different sauces; I adapted mine from one of their versions. Add your favorite veggies, or a sprinkling of chopped nuts. (Look for fish sauce and rice wrappers in the international section of your grocery store — Oriental markets stock them, as well as all sorts of intriguing vegetables and spices.)
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
- 1 package rice wrappers
- 1 pound medium or large shrimp, cooked briefly until pink, then shelled (leftover cooked pork or chicken, chopped finely, can be added, as well)
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh bean sprouts (or substitute chopped zucchini, radish or something else crunchy)
- 2 cups chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped mint (basil can be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (nuoc mam nhi – this one does have a touch of anchovy extract. Don’t worry.)
- 2 teaspoons garlic
Mix everything but the shrimp and rice wrappers; check for taste, and add more fish sauce and garlic, if it’s not spicy enough.
Set your bowl of mix out, along with the shelled shrimp.
For each roll: Dip a rice wrapper in a bowl of lukewarm water; count til 15. Lay the wrapper out flat on a clean counter; lay out 3-5 shrimp on the wrapper, then a heaping tablespoon of mix on top. Quickly roll, then fold the ends together. (It takes practice to make a smooth roll. Start with less mix until you get the hang of it — you may want to leave the ends open, as well. Don’t leave the wrappers in water too long – they’ll melt!)
Lay the rolls out, one at a time, on a platter. (They’re pretty displayed on lettuce, along with more cilantro and mint — then roll each in a crunchy leaf to eat.) You’ll need at least 4-6 rolls for each person. (These don’t store well – make them just before serving.) Eat with nuoc mam pha san sauce and additional veggies or rice noodles.
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com