Fried rice paper gives a unique crunch and texture that most Vietnamese people love.
In Vietnam, spring rolls are traditionally made using rice paper instead of the thin pastry that’s often used in other Southeast Asian countries and China.
- 20 small rice papers sheets
- 2 litres (2 qts) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) glass (cellophane) noodles
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) pork
- 50 g (1 ¾ oz) wood ear mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra if needed
- 1 tbsp sugar, plus extra if needed
- 1 tsp ground white pepper, plus extra if needed
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch Vietnamese mint
- 1 bunch shiso
- 1 iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
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. Start by making the filling. Cook the glass noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and run under cold water until cool, then, using kitchen scissors, snip into short pieces.
2. In a large bowl, combine the cooked glass noodles, pork, mushroom, fish sauce, sugar and white pepper. Work the mixture together, making sure that everything is evenly mixed through. Check the seasoning by cooking 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, sugar or white pepper to the mixture, if necessary, to balance the sweet and salty flavours.
3. Arrange the herbs and lettuce leaves on a large serving platter.
4. Lightly spray a rice paper sheet with water, wiping off any excess liquid. Lay the rice paper sheet flat on a clean workbench. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling along the centre of the rice paper, then fold in the ends and roll up tightly to make a cigar-shaped roll. Repeat with the remaining rice paper sheets and filling to make 20 spring rolls.
5. Heat the oil in a large saucepan to 180°C (350°F) on a kitchen thermometer.
6. Working in batches, lower a few spring rolls into the oil and cook for 10–12 minutes, until golden and crispy. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
7. 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.
8. Serve with the salad plate and nuoc mam. Place a spring roll in a lettuce leaf, top with a few herbs, then wrap it up and dip into the nuoc mam.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99