Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham
- Time: 2 hours
- Serves: 4
- Level: medium
The Vietnamese way of doing these is to use rice paper. It gives a good light crunchy crust but looks a little odd. I prefer to use Chinese wheat papers. Their easier to roll and they look great.
What you need
To make the Spring Rolls with Nuoc Cham you’ll need:
20 large sheets of spring roll wrappers – wheat
1 egg for rolling the wrappers
180g raw jumbo prawns
Meat from 2 pork sausages – or equivalent in minced pork (optional)
150g fresh bean sprouts
25g dried shitaki mushrooms
15g dried black fungus mushrooms (or shitaki mushrooms)
1 red chilli
1 small carrot cut into thin julienne strips
1 tbs grated ginger
2 lemon grass stalks – tough outer leaves removed (optional)
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup chopped coriander root and stalks (optional)
1/4 cup chopped Chinese chives or two chopped spring onions white and green parts
50g mung bean thread (vermicelli) noodle
1 tbs fish sauce
1/4 tsp sugar
Zest of 1 lime
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
For the Nuoc Cham (Chilli, garlic and lime dipping sauce)
8 tbs water
2 tbs sugar
4 tbs fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1 red chilli chopped in rings
1/2 red chilli (to taste) chopped finely
1 cloves garlic grated
1 peeled 5 cm piece of ginger grated (optional)
Salt and pepper
For the pickle:
1 carrot cut julienne and equal amount of mooli cut julienne
1 cup water
1 cup rice vinegar
4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbs coriander seeds
How Dad Cooked It
The packs of wheat wrappers can be found in oriental grocers in the freezer cabinets. You can put the shallot, lemon grass, garlic, ginger, prawns, and sausage meat in a processor and blitz – but stop before it turns to a gooey paste. I prefer to finely chop with a knife and then mix.
- Defrost the wrappers.
- Prepare the mushrooms. Put the mushrooms in separate bowls and cover generously with boiling water. Leave to soak for 10 minutes and then drain and squeeze the shitaki mushrooms. Rinse the wood fungus well and drain squeeze dry.
- Prepare the pickle. Toast the pepper and coriander in a dry pan briefly and very roughly crush in a pestle and mortar. Chop the shallot and ginger. Place all the ingredients in a pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes to infuse the flavours. Prepare the vegetables. My preferred method is to use a julienne tool (a vegetable peeler with teeth). Otherwise use a mandolin or cut to a thin julienne with a knife or use a vegetable peeler that cuts fairly thick and then cut julienne. Put the strip of veg into a bowl and pour over the strained simmering pickling liquid. Stir the vegetables for 30 seconds and then strain off the liquid into another bowl and cool the liquid. Return the vegetables to the cool liquid and marinate for 15 minutes – then drain and set aside in a serving bowl.
- Make the dressing: Add the sugar to a bowl and pour over the water and stir to dissolve. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk. Taste and adjust the seasoning or other ingredients. Aim for a good balance of sweet, hot, salty and sour.
- Prepare the noodles. Make the vermicelli according to the instructions. Put the drained cold noodles in a bowl and add a teaspoon of sesame oil. Mix thoroughly and set aside in a serving bowl.
- Prepare the bean sprouts. Soak the bean sprouts in cold water for 5 minutes and drain. Rinse again in cold water and drain.
- Prepare the prawns and sausage. Finely chop the prawns and put into a large bowl, squeeze the sausage meat from their skins and mix the sausage and prawns together.
- Chop remaining ingredients. Chop the mushrooms. Finely chop the garlic, ginger, chilli, shallot, chives or spring onion. Add to the bowl of prawns and sausage meat.
- Finish the filling. Add a lightly beaten egg to the mix with the fish sauce and a pinch of salt and grinding of pepper. Add the coriander, chives, carrot and bean sprouts and mix. Cut the noodles in 3 or 4 places to make them easier to mix – add the other ingredients and mix well.
- Make the spring rolls. Dampen kitchen towels or a tea cloth to keep the wrappers in moist environment (so they do not dry out and can be peeled from each other more easily). I used the whole sheet – but some cut two triangles for smaller rolls. Lay the wrapper on a work surface and place a soup spoon of mixture on the bottom centre of the wrapper. Fold the bottom edge up and over the filling and draw up the wrapper about half way. Then pull back down on the filling to make a tight pack of filling. Push in any filling in that is trying to escape from the sides and boldly roll the filling up the wrapper leaving about one-third of the wrapper flat on the surface. Use dipped fingers in the beaten egg and cover the exposed top surfaces lightly with egg. Fold the sides in and over the roll and then roll up to complete the spring roll. The only knack to this is practice.
- Cook the spring rolls. Heat a large pan of oil to 180C. and cook the spring rolls in batches of 4. When browned and cooked through drain and keep warm. Cook the remainder.
- Serve the spring rolls. Place on plates with a little of the pickle and coriander leaves and individual bowls of nuoc cham dipping sauce.