Vietnamese Spring rolls: a nutritious and vibrant lunch
These Vietnamese spring rolls will forever remind me of my childhood. Despite the fact that I grew up in deep dark Brittany, my culinary influences have stretched much further since I come from a very multicultural family. My mum came from the Germanic border, I had one German uncle, an aunt who had been well steeped in anglo-saxon culture after living several years in the UK, cousins who lived in Algeria and Morroco and a Vietnamese uncle.
Family gathering were real melting pots of cultures when we’d have a tagine followed by a cinnamon scented strudel or some spatzle followed by a tarte au citron, or crepes followed by a crumble…
I remember once being in the apartment of my cousins’ grandmother in a vibrant part of Paris. She was this tiny Vietnamese woman called “banoy” (although that’s probably not how you write it!) and she could chop quicker than your shadow. She had prepared all sorts of vegetables that I had never seen before and she was also cooking some meat and fish (I remember the aromatic smell!), then everything got wrapped in lettuce leaves and we merrily tucked away at everything on the table.
I have since tried to recreate this scene many times and got used to wrapping my rolls in rice paper because it’s slightly less messy to eat, although I still use lettuce leaves now and again. The dipping sauce isn’t original but it works well providing tang, spices and also some needed fat to the recipe.
This is a very loose list and the amount will really depend on how many people you want to serve.
- Rice paper – about 3 per person
- Cooked chicken/prawns/pork – allow 100g of protein per person
- Red pepper
- Yellow pepper
- Spring onions
- Rice noodles – 1 nest for 3 people
Peel and grate the carrots.
Wash all the vegetables then thinly slice them – it’s important to slice them as thinly as possible as it’ll make the rolls easier to eat.
Thinly slice the chicken/pork if that’s what you’re using .
Boil the kettle and pour the water into a shallow bowl big enough to contain a sheet of rice paper. Dip your rice paper in the water for 5 seconds or until the paper has softened enough to be pliable.
Place your softened rice paper onto a clean surface, then put 4 strips of chicken in the middle of the paper, then about 3 strips of pepper, a little pile of carrots, 3 strips of avocado, a row of rice noodle, a tumble of radishes and spring onions and a sprinkle of lettuce.
Carefully fold the bottom end of the paper onto the pile of vegetables, then fold the sides on top and slowly roll away from you in order to close the roll onto itself. It’s important to roll the vegetables tightly so that it doesn’t all fall apart, go for it, the paper it quite sturdy!
For the prawn rolls, start by placing 3 prawns onto the roll then all the vegetables as above.
The key is not to put too much in or you won’t be able to fold it but also not to put a measly amount or all you’ll be eating is rice paper, which isn’t that nice on its own.
Serve cold with the dipping sauce below.
- 6 tbsp. peanut butter
- 6 tbsp. lime juice
- 3 tbsp. warm water
- 6 tbsp. tamari/soy sauce
- 3 tsp. grated ginger
- 1½ tsp. grated garlic (or already chopped)
- 1½ tsp. chopped chilli
Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork or mini whisk until it forms a homogenous and creamy sauce.
These are great for packed lunches as they’ll keep for a couple of days wrapped in the fridge.