Vietnamese Spring Roll Gỏi cuốn

The key is getting organized with all ingredients — mise en place.

I love making these Vietnamese Spring Rolls. It is easy to prepare with ingredients that are accessible to most grocery stores. Inviting guests to wrap their rolls always creates a fun time for socializing when served as an appetizer–have all the ingredients prepped and ready with a warm bowl of water at the center of the table.

If you live in a drier area, remember to keep moist paper towels layered onto the rolls to prevent from drying. Make the peanut dipping sauce in advance to let the flavors intensify. If you want to add a crispy texture, add fried Chinese soup crackers in the roll. For a vegetarian option, substitute the prawns for julienned jicama or water chestnuts and tofu to the roll.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs shrimp (peel and deveined)
  • tofu extra firm
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 bag of rice vermicelli
  • Assortment of butter lettuce
  • English cucumber
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bag of cleaned bean sprouts
  • 16 (8-1/2-inch) round rice paper wrappers

PREPARATION:

  1. In a pot, boil 5 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.
  2. Season the prawns with shell intact and let it sit for 20 minutes. Place the prawns in the boiling water at once. Cook the shrimp until cooked through about 3-4 minutes. Place the prawns in cold ice water to stop the cooking keep submerged until cool.
  3. Peel the shell from the prawns and devein the black intestinal tract. Cut along the deveined area to butterfly the prawn into 2 halves. Set aside.
  4. In the boiling water, add the rice vermicelli noodles and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove and cool in a bath of ice water to stop cooking. Strain the noodles.
  5. Prepare the vegetables and herbs by washing and ensuring they are cold and crisp. Place on a platter to easily pick each ingredient.
  6. In a low rim dish, add hot water (not boiling) to submerge the round rice paper wrappers. Dip and flip each side until it softens, about 1 minute. Remove and place on the working table.
  7. Ensure the rice paper wrapper is dry and easy to fold. Place the deveined prawns about 3 halves in the middle of the rice paper. Add the vermicelli noodles, tofu (if using) and layer the vegetables and herbs accordingly. Ensure your length of about 4 inches.
  8. Fold each end of the rice paper over the stuffing. Use one flap closer to you and fold over to the corner where the stuffing is at, make sure it secured and tucked in. Then roll the stuffed portion over the remainder of rice paper. Ensure that it’s taught.
  9. Place on a moist paper towel and cover to prevent from drying.
  10. Best when served fresh or enough rolled to feed your guests.

INGREDIENTS and DIRECTION for the PEANUT SAUCE – DIPPING SAUCE FOR FRESH SPRING ROLLS

1/8 cup of roasted peanuts, coarsely ground, for garnish

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1 teaspoon chili paste and/or 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth or ⁄ cup water

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 to 4 teaspoon of brown sugar

2 tablespoons peanut butter (or more)

2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce

Heat the oil and add the garlic, chili paste, and tomato paste. Fry until mixture is thoroughly combined about 2 minutes. Add the broth, sugar, peanut butter, and hoisin sauce, and whisk to dissolve the peanut butter. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Garnish with the ground peanuts.

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