These fresh and healthy Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls are accompanied by a sensational peanut dipping sauce that is totally addictive! Plus my two secret tips that makes rolling these up neatly super easy AND step by step photos!
I think that Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls are one of those things that people love but always assume are just too fiddly or too hard to make. To dispel of that myth, let me tell you – I am not into fiddly. That’s why you’ll never see fancy decorated cakes on my blog. I simply don’t have the patience or co-ordination for fiddly dishes – sweet or savoury.
The flavours are clean and fresh with prawns (shrimp), mint leaves, lettuce, bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles wrapped in rice paper, accompanied by a peanut dipping sauce that is out of this world!! I found the dipping sauce recipe years ago in a hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese joint in Sydney, one of those places where you get mind-blowing food so cheap you wonder if the bill was added up wrongly.
This Vietnamese restaurant had been reviewed in the local paper and the owners (a husband and wife team) had the article proudly displayed in a frame on the wall. Even though it was almost a decade ago when I was there and the name now alludes me, I distinctly remember their story – how the husband and wife fled Vietnam and sought refuge in Australia, how they felt so blessed to find a country that embraced multi culturism where refugees like themselves were able to find jobs, raise a family and eventually start their own business. And they also shared their recipe for their Peanut Dipping Sauce which I wrote down on a scrap of paper (this was before the time of iPhones!) and kept all these years.
HOW TO MAKE RICE PAPER ROLLS
Here are my two simple tips for making it easy to roll them up (neatly):
1. Use 2 rice paper rolls per roll. One of the most common problems is that the rice paper tears quite easily; and
2. Roll up the bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles in the lettuce leaf before rolling up the rice paper roll. What I do is use soft leaf lettuce – like Oak or Butter Lettuce – and I wrap the bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles in it and scrunch it in my fist (not too tightly!) to make it hold together. Then the bits that are usually the annoying parts that fall out everywhere when you’re trying to roll them up are in a neat bundle which makes it super easy to roll up the rice paper.
If you place the filling on the rice paper as per the above photo, when you roll it up the seam will end up on the underside or just on the side of the roll so the smooth side displays the mint leaves and prawns. Aren’t they gorgeous? I could eat these everyday. And so healthy too! Well, at least when I don’t drown them in the Peanut Dipping Sauce.
Hope you enjoy! – Nagi x
- 14 sheets of 22cm/8.5" round rice paper
- 11 small cooked prawns/shrimp (about 12cm/5" in length, unpeeled including the head)
- 50 grams dried vermicelli noodles
- 7 lettuce leaves - use a lettuce with soft leaves, like Oak or Butter Lettuce (see notes)
- 14 mint leaves
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce (see notes)
- 2 small garlic cloves (or 1 large), minced
- 1 birds eye chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- Combine the Peanut Dipping Sauce ingredients, starting with 2 tbsp of water. Mix well to a smooth paste. Then add more water to achieve a honey like consistency.
- Place vermicelli noodles in a bowl and cover with warm water for 2 minutes, then drain (or follow packet instructions).
- Peel the prawns, slice in half lengthwise and devein.
- Fill a large bowl with warm water. The bowl doesn't need to be large enough to fit the whole rice paper in one go.
- Place two rice papers together. Note which side is the smooth side - this is supposed to be the outside of the spring roll. Submerge the rice papers into the water (both of them at the same time, together) for 2 seconds. If your bowl isn't large enough to fit the whole rice paper in one go, that's fine, just rotate it and count 2 seconds for each section you submerge into the water.
- Place both the rice papers (one on top of the other) on a board or the counter with the smooth side down.
- On the top part of the rice paper, place 3 prawns with a mint leaf in between, as per the photo below.
- Place some vermicelli noodles and bean sprouts in a lettuce leaf, then wrap the lettuce leaf around and scrunch together lightly in your hand to make a bundle that holds together.
- Place the lettuce bundle with the seam side down onto the middle of the rice paper.
- Fold the left and right edges of the rice paper in, then starting from the bottom, roll up.
- If you placed the ingredients on the rice paper as per the photo below, your rice paper rolls should look pretty with the prawn and mint leaves on the smooth side of the roll and the seam on the side or underside of the roll.
- Serve immediately with the peanut dipping sauce.
2. I use butter or oak lettuce because they are softer and more pliable than iceberg which makes it perfect for using my above tip. Iceberg and other crunchy lettuce doesn't work as well because they break when you scrunch them. But you could still use iceberg lettuce.
3. Sweet soy sauce is thicker and sweeter than ordinary soy sauce and is available from most major grocery stores. Kecap manis is a suitable substitute.
4. If you refrigerate the sauce, bring it back to room temperature before serving. Note that the sauce thickens when refrigerated.
5. Some recipes will tell you that you can make rice paper rolls the day before and you can keep them moist with a damp paper towel. Firstly, I find that the rice paper rolls smelt like the paper towel and secondly, they didn't hold up that great anyway. My rule of thumb is 4 hours - you can make them up to 4 hours ahead, tightly wrap each one in cling wrap as soon as you make them and refrigerate. Don't just put them on a plate and put cling wrap on the plate, you should roll up each on in cling wrap (you should be able to fit 2 per piece of cling wrap - wrap one first, then place another next to it and roll up with the remaining cling wrap).
5. Nutrition per rice paper roll, no sauce.
Save these Rice Paper Rolls to your “HEALTHY” Pinterest Board!
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Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls nutrition is for the rice paper rolls only, without the sauce.
If you’re after another Asian finger food, try these THAI Fish Cakes!
Or how about these Thai Coconut Prawns / Shrimp with a Spicy Mango Dipping Sauce?
Or if you love SATAY as much as I do, try my Satay Chicken with Peanut Sauce!