Hello, everybody! Summer heat brings with it a wave of fatigue, so what better way to combat that than with a delicious yet healthy meal? I’ll be sharing with you all a dish I really enjoy both making and eating: Vietnamese spring rolls!
My mom hosted a brunch party for her friends today. She wanted to keep the menu simple and fresh. This dish is lightweight as it is loaded with vegetables and good sources of protein. Lots of different textures are incorporated in this one dish, such as the chewiness of the rice paper, the crunchiness of the bell peppers and apples, and the softness of the ripe avocados among others. It makes for an excellent eating experience! It sits well in your stomach, too. It’s super easy to make, so let’s get started!
For the ingredients, you will need some shrimp, bell peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, avocado, an apple, imitation crab meat, vermicelli noodles, sesame oil, and rice paper wraps. I’ll also show you how to make two types of sauces for this dish. For that you will need a can of pineapples and Sriracha, and some peanut butter, fish sauce, and a lemon for the other.
For starters, boil the shrimp until fully cooked. Once cooked, remove shell and tail if they are not already. If you are not a fan of shrimp, you can substitute it for chicken breast meat (boil and shred into small strips once fully cooked). I personally prefer shrimp in this dish over chicken breast, however. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you can simply omit the meat. This dish is highly customizable to suite your tastes.
While the you’ll want to wash and cut bell peppers, cucumbers, imitation crab meat, and apples into small, thin strips. You’ll also want to cut your avocado into thin slices. A trick for maintaining the color of your apple slices is to dunk them in sugar water. Just some sugar dissolved in a water prevents your apples from browning. If you’re hosting a party like my mom did today, leave the cutting of the avocados until last so that they don’t brown. You could use some lemon juice to prevent browning, but that would add a bit of an acidic taste. Also, wash and cut the cilantro into approximately three inch long pieces.
The ingredient in the top right picture on the right half is teriyaki flavored Spam. We didn’t use it for the spring rolls, but we did use it for another very similar dish (spoiler: bonus recipe at the end of this post!).
After the shrimp is done cooking, do not throw away the water in which you boiled them! Cooking the vermicelli noodles in the shrimp broth adds flavor and saves water!
Once the noodles are cooked, mix in some sesame oil so that they noodles do not stick to each other. The sesame oil also adds a savory flavor to the noodles.
Next, I’ll be sharing two simple sauce recipes. The one pictured above requires only a can of pineapples and Sriracha. I used a can of pre-crushed pineapples, but if you can’t find that, a can of pineapple chunks work just as well. You just need to cut or blend the pineapples into small pieces. Then add Sriracha to it. You can adjust the spiciness by adding however much Sriracha you would like. If you are serving this at a party, you can also chop up tiny pieces of cilantro and add it to the sauce for color variation.
Next, I’ll be showing you how to make a peanut sauce. Just add a dollop of peanut butter, some fish sauce, and a bit of lemon juice. The end result shouldn’t be too thick.
This is the brand of rice paper wraps that my mom buys. She found this at her local Safeway, so if you have a grocery store near you that has a selection of Asian goods, check there to see if they have it as well. If not, you may have better luck finding this at an Asian store or simply online.
Prepare a large bowl with warm water. Dip your rice paper wrap into the warm water, rotating it to make sure all of it becomes wet. This will make the rice paper wrap malleable and sticky. Be careful in making sure that the rice paper does not stick on itself. Lay flat on a plate. Then, add your assortment of vegetables, shrimp, apple, and sauces. Wrap in the same way as you would a burrito. The great thing about rice paper wraps is that it sticks to itself. Therefore, if you aren’t great at wrapping, that is fine as the wrap will stick together.
This is the final result! A delicious, fresh Vietnamese spring roll!
This dish is highly customizable in that you can substitute and omit whatever vegetables you would like. If you don’t like the strong flavor of cilantro, you can substitute it with lettuce to still get the texture of leafy greens.
Now, time for the bonus recipe! Using basically the same ingredients, you can make seaweed rolls. Instead of rice paper wraps, just substitute toasted seaweed! My family has been making these seaweed wraps for so many years. We usually use Spam instead of the shrimp used on the spring rolls (but shrimp would taste good, too!) that has been cut into small strips and cooked in a fry pan (which is where the teriyaki Spam comes into play from the photo above). We also add a bit of steamed rice, and instead of adding the pineapple-Sriracha sauce or the peanut sauce, we just dip the roll into soy sauce with some wasabi. So if you make these Vietnamese spring rolls and have leftover ingredients, you can make these seaweed rolls as well!
To be fair though, I’m pretty sure this recipe isn’t an authentic version of Vietnamese spring rolls. My family is not from Vietnam, so I couldn’t tell you if it is, but it is what we use when we make these at home. These spring rolls are still very delicious, and I hope you enjoy them regardless!
Thanks for reading, and until next time,