As an extension of my blog post about living in Plum Village, a Vietnamese Zen monastery in France, I thought it would be worthwhile attempting to cook my own home made spring rolls.
Turns out to be relatively easy – not at all what I expected.
Vietnamese spring rolls differ from both Chinese and Indian versions – in that they’re not made using flaky pastry, nor are they deep fried or crispy, but are instead made with rice paper and are usually steamed.
For this reason they tend to be fresher, more delicate and lighter overall.
It’s not unusual to pack the rolls with crunchy shredded vegetables, meat, seafood, aromatic herbs and sweet black bean sauce (or soy sauce) – along with some spongy rice noodles for an added carbohydrate hit.
Another inspired addition to these rolls are roasted seaweed sheets – which are packed with protein and add a subtle texture to the overall dish. These sheets are layered over the rice paper before heaping the meat or vegetables on top.
You can buy both from Chinese supermarkets.
The recipe below is for vegetarian Vietnamese spring rolls. Bon Appetite!
- 2 – 4 12 x 20cm round rice paper wrappers
- 2 – 4 Roasted seaweed sheets
- 2 –3 baby gem lettuce, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 5 spring onions
- 1 tsp each coriander and cumin seeds
- a small handful of mushrooms
- 100g bean sprouts
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 – 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
- a small handful of coriander, finely chopped
- some pickled ginger
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Soy sauce, for dipping (optional)
For the rolls
- When you are ready to make the rolls, dip one of the rice papers in a bowl of hot water, moving it around until the whole wrapper is soft – about 10-15 seconds – then drain on a plate.
- Place a roasted seaweed sheet on top of the rice paper whilst it dries.
For the vegetables
- In a pan, over a medium heat, add some olive oil and cook the mushrooms for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, coriander seeds and cumin seeds and cook for a further 1 minute.
- Throw in the carrots, bean sprouts, spring onions and baby gem lettuce and cook for 1 minute.
- Sprinkle over the coriander herb.
- Remove the pan from the heat.
- Place some lettuce on top of the seaweed / rice paper sheet, followed by the vegetables and some pickled ginger. Don’t overfill or they will be hard to roll.
- Lift the edge of the rice paper wrapper nearest to you over the filling and, holding the filling in position with your fingers, start rolling up tightly.
- When you’re about halfway, fold the ends of the rice paper in and over the filling so that it is completely enclosed.
- Keep on rolling tightly until the whole rice paper wrapper is rolled up. To serve, cut the rolls in half on the diagonal and serve with a soy sauce dip.