Rice paper rolls are completely ingenious. They’re a great way to add flair to what is a pretty simple list of ingredients – vegetables and protein of choice, wrapped in damp rice paper, with a few herbs and some vermicelli noodles. Or not if you’re trying to go carb free (ish).
I’ve talked before about my trip to Hanoi last year, but I haven’t written about the cooking class we did, which was all about the rice paper rolls. The versions we made featured prawns, pork, beef and fried fish. Some were cold, some were fried and served hot. They’re completely versatile – Vietnam’s version of a sandwich, kind of. I should mention the cooking school was KOTO (which means Know One, Teach One), which supports underprivileged disadvantaged youth in Vietnamese. It’s also a great cooking school and worth visiting if you’re in the neighbourhood.
I generally just put whatever I have out onto a large platter with a small dish of water to dampen the rice paper, and let everyone build their own. That way Ollie gets to put avocado, carrot and cucumber in his (the only veggies he’ll eat), while Amelia and the rest of the family can be more adventurous.
RICE PAPER ROLLS
Dried rice paper rounds (allow 3-4 per person)
50g cooked vermicelli noodles per person
Coriander leaves or Thai basil
Mint leaves (Vietnamese mint if you can get it)
Vegetables – choose from the following:
Cucumber deseeded, thinly sliced
Carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
Cos lettuce, shredded
Snow pea shoots
Spring onions, cut into 5cm strips
Red capsicum, thinly sliced
Protein – choose from the following:
Cooked prawns, shelled, deveined, tails removed
Rare beef, ideally eye fillet, thinly sliced
White fish, cut into thin strips, dusted with flour and fried until cooked
Coconut poached chicken:
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 Tbsp lime juice
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 tsp sea salt
3 x 200g chicken breast fillets
– Place coconut milk, lime juice, lime leaves and salt in a non-stick frying pan over very
low heat. Stir to combine. Add chicken and cook without simmering for 12 minutes
each side or until cooked through. Allow to cool and refrigerate in poaching liquid until
Nuoc Mam Cham Dipping Sauce
3 Tbsp fish sauce
3 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp lime juice
- To make dipping sauce, put the fish sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium heat until just below boiling point. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Just before serving, add lime juice, garlic and chilli. The sauce will keep for 5 days in the fridge.
- To make the rice paper rolls, dip rice paper one at a time in water for 30 seconds. Pat dry.
- Place a small handful of vermicelli noodles, herbs and vegetables and protein of your choice into the middle of the rice paper, making sure you haven’t overloaded it! Fold each side in to enclose the ends of the roll, then roll tightly, tucking in the filling as you go. Wet hands will stop the rice paper from sticking. If you want to make them look pretty, place prawns or herbs on the rice paper first so they show up on the outside. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
Or watch this video to see how it’s done.