Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls are incredibly fresh and healthy. The Vietnamese peanut dipping sauce that accompanies this is sensational and completely addictive! Easy to follow video below so you can master these rolls in no time!
Combine the Peanut Dipping Sauce ingredients. Mix briefly (it won't come together), then microwave for 30 seconds. Mix again until smooth. Set aside to cool. Adjust sour with vinegar, salt with salt and spiciness to taste. Thickness can be adjusted with milk or water once cooled.
Peel the prawns, slice in half lengthwise and devein (watch video).
Remove the crunchy core of the lettuce leaves (watch video).
Tip - LETTUCE BUNDLE (Note 4): Place some vermicelli noodles and bean sprouts in a lettuce leaf, then roll it up, finishing seam side down. Repeat.
Place two rice papers together (if using 2). 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, they will stick together) on a board or the counter with the smooth side down.
Fold the left and right edges of the rice paper in, then starting from the bottom, roll up to cover the lettuce bundle. Then keep rolling firmly. The rice paper is sticky, it will seal itself.
1. Tip to make your rice paper roll life easier: use 2 rice papers per roll. Easier to handle and less prone to tearing. The ends of the roll where there are quadruple layers of rice paper will be a bit chewier, but not super chewy, it is still soft.
Nowadays, rice paper is sold even at supermarkets here in Australia, in the Asian section. It's super good value too!
2. I use butter or oak lettuce because they are softer and more pliable than iceberg which makes it perfect for rolling up. Iceberg and other crunchy lettuce doesn't work as well because they break when you scrunch them, and are prone to tearing the rice paper. If you can't find a soft lettuce, then I suggest shredding the lettuce - it will make it much easier to handle!
3. Milk doesn't add flavour to the sauce, it just makes it a lighter colour so you know it's a peanut sauce. This is the colour the sauce is at most Vietnamese restaurants. So you can use water if you prefer, but the sauce will be a darker brown.
4. My tip for rolling these up is to wrap the bean sprouts and vermicelli noodles in the lettuce then roll it up and/or scrunch it lightly so it stays together. Then roll it up in the rice paper. Much easier to handle!
5. STORAGE: 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 6 hours (max 8) - you can make them up to 6 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).
DIY OPTION: A popular menu item at Vietnamese restaurants here in Sydney are DIY rice paper rolls. So lay out all the components in this recipe out on a table with a large bowl of water, and let everyone make their own!
6. OTHER FILLING IDEAS:
* Julienned vegetables like carrots, cucumbers
* Alfalfa, watercress and other similar shaped vegetables
* Thinly sliced tofu
* Shredded chicken and other proteins
* Other herbs like coriander/cilantro, chives (this is classic Viet)
7. ORIGINAL PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE: As requested by a reader! The one provided in the recipe is more authentic and akin to what you get at Vietnamese restaurants here in Sydney. But here is the original one, FYI:
½ cup smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis, it's thick like syrup)
2 small garlic cloves (or 1 large), minced
1 birds eye chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp lime juice
Mix together ingredients, using water to thin to a dippable consistency.
8. Nutrition per rice paper roll, no sauce.