I’ve been trying out a few new dishes this week … thanks to my neighbourhood library. I love my library – it’s so well stocked with a variety cooking & baking books. I could spend hours and hours in the library getting inspirations with new dishes to cook every week.
As I was browsing through Luke Nguyen’s The Food of Vietnam, this recipe caught my attention. Having eaten this simple dish at Vietnamese restaurants tempted me to try my hands to make them at home because I really liked the texture and flavour. Normally, you’ll find these rolls served as starter with Nuoc Mam Cham dipping sauce. If you plan to eat it as entree/main, you can serve it on a bed of vermicelli salad with vietnamese mint, peanuts and drizzle with Nuoc Mam Cham. Whichever way you choose to serve, they still taste awesome. Plus, my lil’ one can gobble up a few of these babies and she simply loves it.
Crisp Rice Paper Rolls with Nuoc Mam Cham dipping sauce (adapted from Luke Nguyen’s The Food of Vietnam)
Serves 4 as part of shared meal
30g dried black fungus (wood ears)
30g bean thread vermicelli noodles
1/4 jicama, peeled and julienned
200g minced pork
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp fish sauce
20 dried round rice paper sheets
1 egg white, lightly beaten
3 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
(Nuoc Mam Cham Dipping Sauce)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1. Prepare the dipping sauce first. Pour fish sauce, vinegar and sugar in a saucepan with 100 ml water and place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir well and cook until you see smoke coming out from the saucepan. Remove the pan and set aside to cool. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week in an airtight jar.
2. Soak mushrooms in a bowl with warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and slice thinly.
3. Soak the bean thread vermicelli noodles in a bowl of warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and cut into 3-4 cm lengths.
4. Place the sliced jicama in a piece of cheesecloth (muslin cloth) and squeeze out all its juice. Discard the juice. Put the jicama in a mixing bowl, together with the mushrooms, vermicelli noodles, minced pork, crabmeat, onion, sugar, salt, pepper and fish sauce. Knead the mixture for about 10 minutes, ensuring that all ingredients are mixed well and turned dough-like.
5. To make the rolls, ensure you have a clean, flat bench. Firstly, take 1 sheet of rice paper and dip into warm water for 1 second. DO NOT allow to soak in the water as the rice paper will continue to absorb water and will tear and stick when rolled. Place on a flat area and let it rest for 20 seconds. Slowly, you will see the rice paper turning soft. Now, place 2 tbsp of the filling on the bottom edge of the rice paper. Fold the two adjacent sides, one on top of the other, into the centre. Bring the bottom of the rice paper up to encase the filling and start rolling upwards. Squeeze the roll so it is tightly wrapped and secure with a dab of egg white. Repeat until you have filled all the rice paper sheets.
6. Fill a wok to a third and deep fry the rice paper rolls. Careful not to crowd the wok while maintaining the temperature of 180 celsius. Fry the rolls until lightly browned and crisp or 6 minutes each.
7. Remove from the wok and drain on a wire rack.
8. Serve with crushed roasted peanuts and nuoc mam cham dipping sauce by the side.