A couple of months ago, we stopped for cocktails at Hotel de Brett‘s housebar in the city. We weren’t especially looking for food, but I was drawn to the ‘vietnamese rice paper rolls’ on the food menu – the light, fresh flavours of summer rolls seemed like they’d be a perfect complement to some kind of gin drink.
And so they were – a plate of rolls was very pleasant paired with a saffron rose martini. They were simple, vegan-friendly and made fresh, served with a creamy peanut sauce.
While they were tasty and I would certainly order the rolls again if I was visiting for a cocktail, I’m also a fan of making them at home.
A big plate of fresh spring rolls is pretty quick to throw together, and really inexpensive. Here’s a pictorial recipe of some rolls we made recently. The recipe contains no quantities because it all depends how many you want to make, and how big your rice paper is. The combination of ingredients was delicious, but some of the fun of making your own rolls comes from experimenting with different things – feel free to improvise.
Fresh spring rolls
First, assemble and prepare your ingredients.
Shell some roasted, unsalted peanuts and crush them in a mortar and pestle.
Julienne some carrot and cucumber (removing the seeds).
Soak some bean thread in boiling water until soft (we found bean thread at Lim Chhour on K Road, and it’s widely available at Asian supermarkets).
Slice some baked tofu. This was in our fridge already as leftovers – I think it had been marinaded in tamari, maple syrup, toasted sesame oil and a little bit of liquid smoke, then oven-baked.
De-stem and roughly chop some fresh mint and coriander leaves.
With fillings prepared, you’re ready to start making rolls.
The last ingredient in our rolls was the ‘skin’: edible rice paper. Our rice paper sheets also came from Lim Chhour – $1.50 for a big pack.
To prepare them, take one at a time, soak it briefly in hot water until it’s transparent, then take it out, pat off excess water with a paper towel and lay it out flat on a plate.
Place some filling on the lower half of the paper, towards the middle.
Add the rest of the filling.
Tuck the sides of the paper inwards over the filling.
Start rolling upwards from the bottom.
Keep rolling until your spring roll is spring roll shaped.
And there you have it, your first fresh spring roll. Repeat a few times, and you’ll have a whole plate.