Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls – freshness and flavour rolled up into amazing little bundles and served with not one, but two dipping sauces.
This has to be one of the easiest and healthiest dishes to prepare. I’ve concentrated on the classic version of a Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll, but have also included variations.
I call this a Do-it-Yourself Dinner. Laying out all the ingredients as a spread makes it look like you’ve gone to a lot of trouble when you really haven’t.
Then it’s a matter of everyone digging in and making their own rice paper rolls. Aside from boiling the noodles, which only takes a few minutes, there isn’t any other cooking involved.
To Dip or to Smear
If you’ve ever eaten rice paper rolls, you’ll know that occasionally a stray noodle or bean sprout may fall into the sauce while dipping, especially if you double or triple dip.
Recently, my husband hit upon a technique that l thought was pretty clever. He began making his rice paper roll by first smearing a heaped teaspoon of the peanut / hoisin sauce directly onto the rice paper sheet (see photo below). With the sauce already inside the roll, no dipping is required.
This will only work with the peanut / hoisin sauce. Even so, why didn’t l think of that?
- Peanut / Hoisin Sauce is the traditional sauce used for rice paper rolls. Apart from peanut butter and hoisin sauce, l add garlic, a little chili and thin it down with hot water.
- Fish / Coriander Sauce is my preferred sauce. It’s sweet, salty, sour with a little heat and a lots of chopped coriander (if l added the amount l usually do, you wouldn’t be able to see the sauce). You could also make the traditional Vietnamese Nuoc Mam Cham Sauce.
Here are some variations to the classic Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll that we make at home. Beef, bbq pork, salmon sashimi, bean sprouts or sliced tofu are other ingredients you could use to make rice paper rolls.
If you do experiment with different fillings, l’d love to know about it.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
- 8 sheets of 22 cm / 8.5 ” round rice paper sheets
- 1 – 2 baby cos lettuce (note 1)
- 100 g / 3.5 rice vermicelli noodles
- 24 baby cooked baby prawns / shrimp (note 2)
- 16 mint leaves
Peanut / Hoisin
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp peanut butter (any type)
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1/2 tsp crushed chili, chili paste or chili oil
- 2 – 3 tbsp hot water
- 1 tsp chopped peanuts (optional)
Fish / Coriander Sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp lime juice (can substitute with lemon juice)
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 fresh red chili, thinly sliced
- 1 – 2 tsp coriander, finely chopped
- Peanut / Hoisin Sauce: Mix all the ingredients well so that they come together. Adjust thickness by adding more hot water. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Set aside.
- Fish / Coriander Sauce: Combine the brown sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, water and garlic in a small bowl. Sprinkle the chili and coriander on top. Set aside.
- The Rice Paper Rolls: Follow packet instructions for preparing the vermicelli noodles.
- Separate the leaves of the baby cos lettuce. Wash. Set aside.
- Peel prawns. Remove head and tail. Set aside.
- Fill a medium – large plate / bowl with water.
- Dip one rice paper sheet into the water. If necessary, turn over and dip again to ensure both sides are wet. This should only takes a couple of seconds. It’s ok if it feels a little stiff, it will soften.
- Lay the rice paper sheet on a board or plate. Depending on which sauce you are using, you can smear a teaspoon or two of the peanut / hoisin sauce about a third of the way down the sheet or you might prefer to dip into the sauce instead.
- Lay a baby cos lettuce leaf on the rice paper sheet about a third of the way down.
- Place some vermicelli rice noodles inside the lettuce leaf.
- At the opposite end of the rice paper sheet, place 3 prawns and a mint leaf in between.
- Fold in the sides of the rice paper sheet, then begin rolling from the top section (see photos). Roll fairly tightly. The rice paper is sticky so it will seal nicely.
- Rice Paper Rolls are best eaten straight away with the sauce of your choice.
- The size and shape of a baby cos lettuce are perfect for rice paper rolls. Their small size means you don’t have to trim them, and the vermicelli noodles fit neatly inside the spoon shaped leaves. If you can’t find baby cos lettuce, any soft leaf lettuce is fine.
- I buy frozen peeled baby prawns with heads removed (it’s just more convenient). To prepare the prawns, all l need to do is remove the tail. Large or medium sized prawns require deveining (removal of the dark vein along the back of a prawn). This isn’t as necessary with baby prawns. Many Vietnamese Rice Paper Roll recipes slice the prawns in half lengthwise. My preference is to use whole prawns; the rolls are much more substantial that way.