A delicious, healthy snack roll from Vietnam that's bursting full of flavour
Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
An incredibly versatile and healthy snack that always seems a more impressive eat than the sum of its parts. Dipping the soft, slightly transparent rolls filled full of chewy rice noodles, crunchy veg and fragrant herbs into the spicy, salty peanut dip is a tasty appetiser and can easily be padded out to a main course if required with some additional crispy spring rolls and steamed BBQ-pork buns (Cha Siu Bao) and a soy bean and chinese pickle salad for a full-on Dim Sum feast. And, once you get the hang of the rolling, they’re dead simple to make too – the key thing is just to chop all the ingredients very finely (or use a food processor if you have one). This recipe will yield several large rolls, depending on the size of rice paper you buy. Circular packs of rice paper sheets are available in any Asian grocer and some larger supermarkets, too.
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You Will Need
First of all, make your dipping sauce by mixing the peanut butter, hoisin, lime juice, chilli and fish sauce. Mix it well, taste, and adjust the lime juice, fish sauce and hoi sin to taste. You want the dip to be fairly thick, but still with a runny consistency, and a spicy, sweet and salty kick. You can always thin it with 1/2 tbsp water if your peanut butter is particularly thick.
Secondly, prepare your 'main’ ingredient. Usually this will be fried tofu, prawns or chicken. In this recipe I have opted for tofu. Simply slice up the block and deep-fry until browned on all sides (or grill your prawns or chicken until cooked through). If you are using ready-fried tofu, you won't need to fry it of course as this has already been done for you. Marinate these tofu pieces in the Gochujang (or any other spicy/fermented chilli bean paste, or a mixture of 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tbsp crushed ginger and 1 crushed red chilli if you really can't find one), the soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and white pepper for about an hour.
Now comes the assembly. Dip one rice paper sheet in some warm water for a few seconds until soft, then lay flat and, working in a straight line down the middle of the roll, add a layer of noodles, then a layer of the tofu (or shrimp or chicken) and a little of its marinating juices, then a few slices of the veg, and a sprinkling of the peanuts and herbs. Overlap the bottom of the sheet around the filling and wrap tightly, as you would a tortilla or sandwich wrap. It might take a couple of attempts to get right but soon you’ll be making rolls like a pro. Slice each one in half with a sharp knife and serve alongside the dip.