Sunday, 17 July 2011

Rock 'n' Roller

Involtini Viatnamese con Ripieno di Insalata e Gamberi
Viatnamese Spring Rolls with a Filling of Fresh Greens and Shrimps

Sometimes I get the craziest ideas... like trying to make Vietnamese spring rolls for example. I managed to make something that looks similar and was delicious... but let me tell you- even though the principle is very simple and they require practically no cooking... these things were not easy to make! In future, I will be crossing my Vietnamese restauranteurs palms with silver and putting my feet up... somethings are better left to the professionals!

The only "cooking" involved, is the "boiling" of the rice noodles and the shrimp- neither of which require actual boiling, because basically, you can put them into a bowl together, pour boiling water over them and forget them until you are ready to assemble the rolls. So that's what I did!
For the rolls, you will need fresh mint and cilantro, some lettuce greens, carrot, cucumber and either some leftover cooked pork or ham. Cut all of these ingredients into strips, making sure that the lettuce, carrots and cucumber are nice and thinly sliced. 

Now prepare the "rice paper" wrappers. Simply drop the sheets of rice paper into water and after 2-3 minutes, they will become soft and elastic. As soon as this happens- start praying things will work out... and let the games begin! Make sure you have everything ready and well in reach as you will need to move pretty quickly!

First of all, drain the water from the glass noodles and shrimp. Spread the soft rice paper wrapper out flat and place on a mix of salad greens, cucumber strips, some of the glass noodles, a couple of shrimp and plenty of mint, cilantro. Set this out around 1/3rd of the way up the sheet. Now, take the end of the sheet nearest to your ingredients and pull it over them, nice and snug, whilst folding over the edges to seal. It is pretty tricky work getting the snug fit! But you will find that the wrapper sticks very easily which makes it very easy to seal. I have to admit, I needed to make 4-5 of them before I got the hand of things though! And even then... they really were not as snug, tight and lusciously packed as the real thing! It was pretty frustrating!

One little "invention" I made in addition, was a tasty "relish" of peach, shallot, chili, mint and turmeric. I chopped all of the ingredients finely and added honey and lime juice. A little fish sauce, a little powdered galangal and a few minutes for all the flavors to combine nicely and you have a simple, fruity and alternative dressing to the usual- although I didn't want to miss out on a nice sweet chili sauce! I added some of the freshly chopped shallots I had left over from the relish, which gave it a subtle crunch and a fresher flavor... easy, quick and delicious!

But still not anything like as wonderful as the real thing! Methinks I will be practicing these for a while before I feel good about them!

I served them with a few leaves of endive and more mint and cilantro... and bowed in respect to my Asian friends for their expertise in the kitchen!

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