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Vietnamese Rice Rolls

Rice rolls, spring rolls, salad rolls…. if you have not had these before you are missing out. Most of us find them when we go for pho and some lucky people find them for lunch at random places around Ottawa… but mostly it’s easier and far cheaper to find them in your own kitchen. They are so easy to make… seriously! The trickiest part about them is finding the rice papers… which isn’t hard since most grocery stores have them. But once you get your hands on some.. you are going to be addicted. And you can make so many different kinds. Sometimes I like to add red pepper slivers and mango. Mint or basil is a nice addition as well. There are also loads of really good vegetarian ones out there in the world with carrots and red cabbage… experiment!!!

Tip – you are probably going to mess up at least one of the rice papers the first time you make them. Don’t worry! That is normal. If your paper is cracked or becomes torn while you are in the process of making the wrap DO NOT CONTINUE.. just toss it out and get a new one… it just won’t work.

Tip – do not over fill the roll. I know it’s hard! Resist… use some self-restraint! Take a deep breath and remind yourself that more is not always better.

Tip- don’t leave them in the open air for long periods of time. They are not the best appetizer if they are not going to be eaten within 10… maybe 15 minutes after making the, unless of course you wrap them up in plastic wrap.

Tip – if you want them for lunch then you have to make them in the morning before leaving and have to wrap them tightly with plastic wrap so they can stay moist. I suppose you could make them the night before… but I have not tried this and can’t say how good they will be the next day.

Tip – any sauce goes well on them… just make sure you usesome sauce, they aren’t as good without it. Sweet thai chili sauce, hot and sour, or plum! You don’t have to use the hoisin peanut sauce I outline below… I merely recommend it!

Vietnamese Rice Rolls

Cooked shrimp or crab sticks (3-4 shrimp or 1 crab stick per roll)

Cucumber, julienned (cut into sticks) (2 thin sticks per roll)

Avocado, sliced (~ ½ cm) (1 ½ slices per roll)

Cilantro (5-6 leaves per roll)

2 green onions, chopped (1 tsp per roll)

rice paper rounds, 8 ½ inches in diameter (one for each roll)

¼ package rice noodles, cooked and drained (1/4 cup each roll)


2 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp peanut butter

Make sure all of your ingredients are chopped and ready to use before starting to make any rolls.

Set up a wrapping station composed of a flat work surface (I use a plastic cutting board) and a large flat pan or pie plate with warm water for dipping the rice papers.

Dip a rice paper round in water and hold it submerged with your fingers. You will feel it turn from very hard to nice and soft within 15-20 seconds. I like to twirl the disk around in a circular motion while under water. After about 15 seconds you’ll be able to feel that all the hard bits have now become soft and flexible. Remove it from the water, letting it hover above the pan until most of the excess water drips off before transferring it to the work surface.

Put about 1/4 cup of the noodles on top the bottom third of the circle, spreading them in a rectangle.

Proceed to place other ingredients on top, being very careful to NOT OVER FILL it. A tsp of onions, 3-4 shrimps or one crab stick, two thin cucumber sticks, 5-6 cilantro leaves and one piece of avocado.

Bring up the lower edge of the rice paper to cover the herbs.

Roll up the rice paper up towards the top of your cutting board stopping with about an inch left. Fold the side in and then continue rolling so that you have a nice neat package. Repeat!

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