If you’ve never heard of these little perky little chaps, prepare to give me a BIG pat on the back. You’re going to love them! Get ready for my take on a Vietnamese Summer Rolls recipe.
Vietnamese Summer Rolls are the summer, light version of the Spring Rolls we all know and love (or tolerate) – and I think they are MUCH MUCH tastier!
They are rammed full of flavour and are healthy too, striking that perfect balance between salad and something tasty (sorry salad, but you know what I mean). Vietnamese Summer Rolls can pretty much comprise whatever you like; they’re a great option for vegans. veggies and meat eaters alike. Though I’m sure they’d be tasty with prawns or pork inside, it would be much more of a faff, and they are a brill tasty vegan treat!
First of all, you’re going to need some of these. Vietnamese rice paper wrappers. I got them from a massive oriental supermarket near me, on Vicar Lane in Leeds. Their billboard says “taste” – find details of the supermarket’s location here. I can’t remember an exact price but they were very cheap – a couple of pounds for around 500 wrappers! Definitely enough to be getting on with.
You’ll need to decide on a dipping sauce too, and the options are massive! The only thing a vegan needs to be aware of is choosing a vegan fish sauce, or omitting it entirely. My sauce balances sugar, lime juice, (vegan) fish sauce, a garlic clove and a shard of fresh, finely chopped chilli. I also added soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, to taste.
Next: what do you want to put inside? A nice crisp lettuce is perfect for delivering a crunchy bite, as is finely match-stick chopped carrot. You really do need something crisp against the squishy backdrop of soft noodles and tofu – it makes for a glorious mouthful! I would advise against cabbage unless you want that all-pervading cabbageyness to your rolls – if you do, go right ahead! I also opted for the crunch and sweetness of pepper in my wrap. This really is open to your tastebuds – why not experiment to get your perfect roll combination!
Salted peanuts are a real definite for me. Again, they add crunch and taste, but they also give you a hit of protein alongside the tofu. Yum. Their texture works perfectly, just give them a rough chop.
Get your dipping sauce and all your ingredients ready to roll, before embarking upon the final product. This means, protein. If you’re having meat, do your thing – if tofu, I love this thai marinade (I know, a bit of a cultural mishmash, but it’s an amazing sauce!) It’s stolen (and slightly altered) from a Serious Eats marinade to go in a vegan Banh Mi. Simply combine 2-3 garlic cloves, a generous handful of coriander (stalks are absolutely fine), 1-2 tbsp of brown sugar, 1 tsp white pepper, 1tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp soy sauce, a shard of lemongrass (I usually chop an inch off of a stalk from the freezer) and 1 tbsp vegetable oil (rapeseed oil is good here), and whack into a food processor. When it’s chopped add a further tbsp or so of oil. This is all a matter of taste, so add more coriander, oil, lime, soy or sugar as you go – whizz it, taste it, add something, whizz some more.
Whilst you do this, get your (firm) tofu out and put it in a bowl, covered with a plate with weights on top (I usually use a couple of full cans), and leave it for 15 mins to squidge out excess water. Then spread the marinade and let it sit for as long as you can. Then griddle your tofu. I leave the marinade on. Because it’s just too tasty to get rid. Break it down into small pieces and add it to your ingredients pile – now you’re ready to roll!
Boil your hair-fine vermicelli (or similar) noodles until just soft – don’t overcook them. Your best option is probably to bring your water to the boil then take it off, and add your noodles. Keep an eye on them, but they probably need 3-4 minutes.
Now for the rolling! This can take a bit of practice, but be patient – it doesn’t take much. Get a shallow, wide bowl which is wide enough for you to stick you hand in easily enough, and get your hard rice paper. Dip it into the water, rubbing the water all over it. You will feel it change from crunchy and papery to a slightly slimey (from the starch), soft pancake – but don’t let it go too soft. Pull it out as soon as you can tell that it won’t break under the strain of being rolled up. This took me an average of about 40secs per rice paper.
Now place your softened rice paper on a board, and load up. Put in less filling than you think you’ll need, as a rule – then you’ll be able to roll it up. I went for: shredded lettuce, a few carrot matchsticks, a few pieces of pepper, a pinch of noodles, a few sprigs of coriander, your cooked tofu, and a little sprinkle of chopped peanut.
Now fold each end in, and tuck one side over, and roll up. You’re done! Now keep going until you’ve got enough for tea (or lunch tomorrow, too – they’re a perfect packed lunch!)
I think you can easily polish off 6-8 as a main course, but these would be a great starter if you’re looking to impress. This was my first go with the pancakes, so my rolls were uneven. But they all stayed together – which should give you some confidence! It won’t be long until I get wrapping and rolling again, I can guarantee that!
Once you’ve had a go, you’ll want to try this recipe again and vary the ingredients. Why not leave out the crunchy peanuts inside and opt for a satay dipping sauce instead? Or omit the tofu and go for a pure salad in a wrap? Whack in thai basil, mint or chinese garlic chives to vary the herb profile. If you’re a meat eater, play around with belly pork, prawn, or both!
To make 8 wraps (you’d be wise to double this and cook for your packed lunch tomorrow!)
1 block rice vermicelli, cooked and rinsed in cool water to stop the cooking
handful of coriander, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into very fine matchstick lengths
1 (small gem) lettuce (or around 1/5 of an iceberg), shredded
tofu, cooked and marinaded to taste (see recipe for marinade)
3 tbsp salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
8 rice paper wrappers
For the dipping sauce:
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp (vegan) fish sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (optional)
a shard of a chilli of your choice (I use about 1/4 of a scotch bonnet, but 1 small bird’s eye would be more traditional)
Vietnamese Summer Rolls Recipe:
Put the noodles in a large bowl and pour over boiling water. Add ½ tsp salt, leave for about four minutes until al dente, then really rinse through with cold water in a sieve, and drain.
(Marinate, if you’re doing it, and) Cook your tofu. Make your dipping sauce in the meanwhile – just chop your garlic and then add your other ingredients, tweaking levels to your taste buds so you get the right combination of salty, sour and sweet. Chop all of your veg ingredients, herbs and peanuts and set them out on your chopping board.
Get your wraps out and start dunking. Once one’s wet enough, lay it flat on your chopping board and start adding your ingredients. Be aware that the ingredients on the bottom will show through, so try to add interest with coriander leaves or carrot sticks, not just a lump of white noodles!
The order I opt for is: coriander, veg, lettuce, noodles, tofu then peanuts. Get rolling! Once rolled, place it join-side down.
Get dunking! I reckon you’ll enjoy these! Px
(please leave me a comment if you read the blog – I’d love to hear from you) xxx