Have you ever had one of those moments when you try a completely new food for the first time, and your taste buds come alive like never before? Have you ever sat awake thinking and dreaming about eating that food again? I love food – so this has happened a few times, for me. I know that when a dish has really won me over, I just HAVE to know how to make it at home. Not only is it often more economical to make it yourself, but you can eat it whenever you want!
One of my favorite ever “happy foods” are these Vietnamese salad rolls. My husband introduced me to them when we were first married and it was love at first bite. I don’t know what did it – the texture, the blend of flavors, the sauce – but I was IN LOVE. When we moved to a town that had a lot less diversity in restaurants, I knew I had to learn how to make these babies. I was happily surprised to learn just how easy they were (bonus) and how inexpensive they can be to make. And, because I happen to really like all of you – I’m going to share my favorite way to make these, along with my favorite recipe for peanut sauce. You’re welcome.
- Rice paper wrappers – these come packaged like this (label can be different) and are found in the dry foods section of the Asian aisle in your supermarket. They are hard, dry, and thin. One package will make A LOT of salad rolls. You can save the uncooked wrappers for future use.
For the filling:
The amounts of each of these ingredients will depend on how many rolls you want to make. So, let me break it down per roll.
For ONE salad roll, you’ll need:
- one rice paper
- three shrimp, defrosted (or, you can halve the shrimp width-wise and just use 1.5 per roll)
- a scant 1/4 cup rice vermicelli noodles (cooked and drained)
- 2 mint leaves
- 2 thai basil leaves
- 1 sprig cilantro
- 2 slivered cucumber pieces (peeled)
- 2 pieces green onion, sliced thin, longwise
- one leaf butter or bib lettuce
The best thing about these rolls is – if there is an ingredient you aren’t in love with, just omit it! Easy! Though, I honestly would highly recommend you leave in the mint leaves. So, so, so, so good! You can replace any of these ingredients with things like julienned carrots, sliced pork or turkey. or whatever suits your fancy. Be creative!
After you have gathered all of your ingredients, set them on your work surface in this order (from left to right): Rice paper, shrimp, vermicelli noodles, mint, basil, cilantro, cucumber, onion, then lettuce.
Grab a pie dish or a large, flat-bottomed frying pan and fill with hot water. Set to the left side. This will be for softening the rice paper (it’s like a science experiment – seriously.)
Dampen a kitchen towel (cotton is best) and lay it out flat on your work space.
Now we’re ready to assemble! First, let’s “cook” those rice papers. Grab a rice paper and place it into the pan with hot water. Wait for 1 minute or so for it to soften. Pull it out. You can gently (very gently) squeeze the water off if you’d like. Be very careful as they can tear easily, and once it starts to dry it can stick to itself.
How to fill:
1. Lay the softened rice paper out on your damp cloth. Try to make it into as much of a circle as you can. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
2. Lay the shrimp down in the middle of the wrapper and slightly nearer the top.
3. Add your vermicelli noodles
4. Layer the mint, basil, and cilantro over the noodles
5. Lay the cucumber and onion to the sides of the noodle pile.
6. Roll the lettuce leaf like a cigar and place on top
You basically roll them like a taco. Bring the bottom edge up over the filling and hold it in place. Wrap the side edges over, then continue rolling trying your best to have the seam be at the back. The wrapper will stick to itself and seal all that goodness in.
As you finish rolling the salad rolls, place in a rimmed baking dish and cover with plastic wrap.
These are best eaten right away, but can store for a few hours in the fridge, if need be.
I mean….come on. I’m drooling.
These salad rolls are made much more amazing when paired with some amazing peanut sauce.
You can buy pre-made peanut sauce, but why bother when you can make your own?
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (or can use the stuff in a jar – just use 1 1/2 Tbsp)
- 4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1-2 tablespoon granulated sugar (depending on how sweet your peanut butter is)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons chile-garlic paste or sambal oelek
- 1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Whisk all of the ingredients together and set aside. The longer it has time to sit, the better. You can serve it with some thinly sliced carrots and coarsely chopped peanuts thrown in for good measure. I didn’t have any on hand, so I did without.
If you don’t love peanut sauce, simply serve these babies with some sweet thai chili sauce and you’re good to go. Delish!
These are truly easy to assemble – but you have to work fairly quickly. The key is having all of your filling ingredients ready to go.
If you really want to “wow” your family, why not make some Vietnamese spring rolls to go along with these salad rolls? You’ll get some fried and fresh, in one meal. Love that!
You can also serve these with a great, light salad for a really fresh dinner idea. Learn how to make 3 salad dressing bases that can work with 15 different salads – the sky is the limit!
Finally serve your salad rolls with some delicious (and oooh, so fancy) prickly pear lemonade! You’ll love this stuff.