I first ate this dish a few years ago down a laneway in the Old Quarter in Hanoi. The flavours were so simple and delicious with a wonderful crispy texture. I just had to recreate it!
- 20 medium rice paper sheets
- 2 litres (2 qts) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Crab and pork filling
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) pork
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra if needed
- 1 tbsp sugar, plus extra if needed
- pinch of ground white pepper
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) wood ear mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 300 g (10½ oz) fresh crab meat
- 1 iceberg lettuce or butter (bibb) lettuce, leaves separated
- 1 bunch mint, leaves picked
- 1 bunch Vietnamese mint, leaves picked
- 1 bunch shiso, leaves picked
Nuoc mam dipping sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 brid's eye chillies, finely chopped or sliced
- 150 ml fish sauce
- 100 ml white vinegar
- 140 g caster (superfine) sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. To make the crab and pork filling, place all the ingredients except the crab meat in a large bowl and mix to combine. Check the seasoning by cooking off 2 teaspoons of the mixture in a small frying pan over medium heat or in the microwave for 30 seconds. Taste, and add more fish sauce or sugar to the mixture, if necessary, to balance the sweet and salty flavours.
2. Arrange the lettuce leaves and herbs on a large serving platter.
3. Let’s make spring rolls! Lightly spray a rice paper sheet with a little water, wiping off any excess liquid. Lay the rice paper sheet flat on a clean workbench. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the centre of the rice paper and top with two teaspoons of the crab meat. Fold in all four sides of the rice paper to make a tight square. Repeat with the remaining rice paper sheets and filling to make 20 spring rolls.
4. Heat the oil in a large saucepan to 180°C (350°F) on a kitchen thermometer.
5. Working in batches, lower a few spring rolls into the oil and cook for 7–10 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
6. Make the dipping sauce by combining the ingredients and 200 ml water in a bowl and stiring through until the sugar has dissolved. Makes 600 ml, the remainder can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
7. Serve the spring rolls with the salad plate and nuoc mam. Place a spring roll in a lettuce leaf, top with a few herbs, then wrap it all up and dip in the nuoc mam.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99