These are easy, delicious and a great way to get guests to become involved with their food. The version described here uses prawns (cooked, deveined and peeled) but you can use thinly sliced grilled pork, cooked pork mince, chicken or tofu.
Ingredients (as pictured above, clockwise from top left):
1. rice vermicelli prepared according to instructions and left to cool
2. shredded or grated carrot and cucumber; cooked and cooled prawns, pork, chicken or tofu
3. & 4. rice paper wrappers and a bowl of warm water
5. lettuce, fresh mint, and fresh Vietnamese balm (also known as Vietnamese mint but not actually minty – see note)
+ a small bowl of hoisin dipping sauce (4-5 tbsp hoisin sauce, warmed with an equal amount of milk then mixed with 1 tbsp of rice vinegar and fresh red chillies to taste) or nuoc nam cham (3 tbsp fish sauce, 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 3tbsp lime or lemon juice, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 fienly chopped garlic cloves and fresh red chillies to taste)
These rolls are easy and fun to prepare. First, dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water, ensuring all surfaces become wet. Place on your plate and begin to arrange filling as the wrapper softens.
First, place some prawns (and/or cooked meat or tofu) face down on the side closest to you, about 2/5 of the way along.
Lay the Vietnamese balm and/or mint leaves on top.Next, lay a small amount of carrot, cucumber (and noodles or bean sprouts or whatever else you are using) along the top.Lastly, top with the lettuce.Begin to roll by taking the edge closest to you and folding it tightly over the filling. Fold in the edges and continue to roll away from you, keeping tight all the way. When finished you should be able to see the prawns and herbs through the wrapper.
As you can see by the following two examples, keeping the spring roll tight while rolling results in a neater roll and easier eating…
Note: Vietnamese balm or Vietnamese mint (kinh gioi) is available at Asian grocers. It has green, jaggard-edged leaves and a delicate yet distinctive scent and flavour with a hint of lemon. There is no substitute, and goi cuon are just not the same without it!
Another traditional ingredient is garlic chives. Simply cut to about15-20cm long, and lay along the top of the roll after you’ve just folded the sides up but before rolling along to close it. Below is an example of what these guys look like (made my moi, obviously!).