tThe ability to roll one of these is a life skill, learned from childhood. They are the host of many parties and get-togethers, where guests are presented with an array of fresh leaves and herbs accompanied by a variety of stars from Saigon’s specialty of poached pork and shrimp to fried fish. You can be as inventive or as simple as you want.
For summer sandwiches, let people make their own parties. Teaching everyone how to roll, breaks the ice, and it’s a lot of fun. You can make some of these recipes, bring them to the table with an abundance of fresh herbs and leaves, make lots of sauces, noodles and provide a mass of rice paper. Instant party!
For the sandwiches
1.6 mm rice vermicelli noodles (bun) 80 g, rehydrated (see instructions for use)
poached free-range pork belly 200g, skin removed, thinly sliced
boiled shrimp 165 g, peeled and gutted
coriander 12 stems and leaves, roughly chopped
coin 18 leaves, roughly chopped
cockscomb mint 3 sprigs (optional)
perilla (shiso) 18 leaves (optional)
cloves of garlic 6 (optional)
lettuce 6 leaves
22cm rice paper sheets 6
For the hoisin, garlic and chili dipping sauce
vegetable oil 1 teaspoon
garlic 1 clove, finely chopped
hoisin sauce 2 tablespoons
white wine vinegar or cider vinegar ½ tablespoon
caster sugar 1 teaspoon
chili sauce ½ tablespoon
water 1 tbsp
peanuts 2 tbsp, ground or blended
For the nut butter dipping sauce
vegetable oil 1 teaspoon
shallot 1, finely chopped
bird’s eye view chile 1, finely chopped
cashew, almond or peanut butter 2 tablespoons
soy sauce or tamari 2 teaspoons
maple syrup 1 teaspoon
water 2 tablespoons
To prepare the rice vermicelli: bring a pot of water to the boil, cook the noodles for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, let stand for 5-10 minutes, rinse in a colander until the starch water runs clear, cover and drain.
To prepare the sauces, heat the oil in a pan and fry the garlic or shallot until light brown. Add everything else except the crushed nuts in the hoisin chili sauce and bring to a gentle boil. Pour into dip dishes and sprinkle the nuts over the hoisin chili sauce.
Wash and spin or dry the leaves, boil and cut your ingredients. When all the ingredients are ready, make sure they are dry (to avoid breaking the paper later). Place them on your work surface in separate containers, ready to make the sandwiches. Pour some cold tap water into a container deep enough to wet the rice paper. Dip the paper for a second to moisten it and place it on a cutting board.
Imagine that the round paper is a face. At the bottom of the paper, where the mouth would be, place your main ingredients, then the herbs, noodles, and lettuce.
Fold the two sides in — where the ears would be — then fold the bottom flap — the chin — up to cover the ingredients. It should look like you’re making an envelope. Then, as tight as possible, starting from the bottom, roll and push down as you go until you reach the end of the rice paper. Store the sandwiches in an airtight container at room temperature and serve within 2-3 hours, depending on the weather and what you have inside. As seafood, for example, you should enjoy it right away.
From Vietnamese by Uyen Luu (Hardie Grant, £22)