When people ask what my favourite dish is, my answer has always been the same since I was a little girl – vietnamese wrap. No dish has taken its place, and no dish has been adapted so well to my dietary needs as it has changed over the years. I have so much love for this dish.
Vietnamese wrap is what I’ve called it growing up. It is also known as, ‘fresh spring rolls’, ‘garden rolls’ or, ‘summer rolls’. At its basics, this dish is rice noodles (vermicelli noodles), with a filling of your choice, salad and herbs all wrapped up in rice paper (and don’t forget the dipping sauce!).
I’ve divided this post into three sections; the sauce, the filling, and making the roll.
1. The Sauce – Over the years I’ve made the dipping sauce a variety of ways. At this stage I’ve settled on what I like to call the best and most versatile soy dipping sauce. Why? Because it’s so tasty and can be used in a variety of ways! I use it not only for this dish, but often when dipping sauce is required, for flavouring dishes, and as a seasoning on rice.Dipping Sauce Recipe (makes 250ml)
50g palm sugar
60ml boiling water
40ml cool water
80ml soy sauce (I use Golden Mountain Seasoning Sauce (use a Thai soy sauce if you can’t find this brand))
70ml lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (at least) (can use fresh chillies too)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
I suggest making at least half a litre of this sauce at a time. This way you’ll save plenty of time next time round. Start by pouring your hot water over the palm sugar (if you don’t have palm sugar, use brown sugar). If you get the palm sugar in blocks like I do, use a pestle to grind it down until it dissolves in the water to speed up the process. Then add the remaining ingredients. You should put some chilli in as it’s part of the taste, however if you like it hot, add more than what’s suggested.
2. The Filling – In my intro to this post I mentioned that this meal has evolved with my diet over the years. I’m a vegetarian, but am trying to eat as much unrefined foods as I can. A year ago I was eating marinated tofu with this dish, but now I’m using shiitake mushrooms instead. I buy dried shiitake mushrooms in bulk. Not only does it work out a lot cheaper than buying fresh, it’s something that I always have in the pantry and is really easy to work with.
100g dried shiitake mushrooms
1 med onion
1.5 tbs curry powder
1 lemongrass root (minced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
2.5 tbs soy sauce
chilli to taste
It’s important to plan ahead when you make this as you need to soak the shiitake for at least 3 hours in room temperature water (overnight is fine). You can use hot water to get the job done faster, but I find the shiitake is a bit rubbery.
Once all your ingredients are ready, use a little oil in a large pan (I use rice bran oil as it has a high smoking point), and cook your onion and garlic. Next, add the rest of your ingredients and stir on high heat for a few minutes. You may need to add a few spoons of water if you think it looks too dry.
3. Vietnamese Wrap – If you’ve made it this far, then welcome to the fun part! Making it! There are still a few more ingredients to pull together, but you’re almost there!Vietnamese Wrap
Soy Dipping Sauce (served in dipping bowls)
Lettuce – any kind!
Mint – you must have mint. It’s one of the key flavours.
Other herbs – like coriander, chives, whatever you like.
Sorrel – It’s a shame if you can’t get your hands on this as it brings an amazing tangy flavour to the table.
Vermicelli Noodles (Thin white noodle made from rice, sometimes known as rice noodles, or rice sticks) (To cook these pour boiling water over them so that they’re covered and let them sit for about 7 minutes. Try some to see if they are cooked. When they are, rinse under cold water until cool and cut a few times with scissors so the pieces are more manageable.)
Bean Sprouts Rice Paper (use the large size, about the size of a dinner plate!) Crushed Roasted Peanuts
If you don’t have all of these ingredients, don’t fret! I think the bare minimum that you can get away with is; noodles, lettuce, cucumber, mint, filling, and sauce.
I’ve made a short video so you can see how it all works and how to roll it. But just incase you like reading, here goes… First grab a rice paper sheet and dip it in a bowl of room temperature water. Make sure both sides are completely wet. There is no need to soak it until it is soft, as this will happen while resting on your plate as you place all the ingredients on the rice paper.
The order that you put the fillings on is entirely optional. However, I like to make sure I start with a large leaf (lettuce or sorrel), and end with a leaf. This will make it easier to roll as it’s easier to stop the filling from spilling out. Place the ingredients at 6 o’clock on your plate (as in, closest to you). It’s important to be firm as you roll to keep the ingredients from falling out while you eat, but gentle enough not to tear the rice paper. You’ll get the hang of it quickly. Fold the bottom edge over the ingredients and pull the ingredients under the rice paper (ok, I think you need to watch the video). Fold the sides in and roll until finished. You can add the roasted peanuts in the roll or in the sauce. Dip the roll into the sauce and munch away. I’ve seen many skeptical faces turn from scepticism to being delightfully surprised with their first mouthful.
(video) How to roll the wrap… check it out!
I’ve observed many a newbie roll their first wrap and have been thoroughly amused at the not so great, and the sometimes perfect rolls! If you don’t get rolling the wrap the first time round, don’t give up or be disheartened – you’ll get there! What you’re aiming for is a clean plate by the time you’re finished eating your roll – that’s when you know you’ve got the technique down pat.
Oh, and just a note, this is NOT a burrito! Start with just a little filling. This will help you get the hang of it! (I eat around 6… okay probably 7 rolls each time! (but I don’t over fill mine so I can make/eat more!))
Do you also love this meal? It can look a bit strange to those who have never had it before. So if you’re already a fan, leave your best comment below to encourage others to introduce themselves to this wonderful dish!
Any questions let me know! Kimanh x