vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls

Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls

Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls

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Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls
Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls

 

Vietnamese Chicken Rice Paper Rolls

Summer has definitely hit in Perth and when it is this hot, it can be hard to find the motivation to cook something. That’s why I love this recipe for Vietnamese rice paper rolls also known as Vietnamese spring rolls. Not only is Brooke obsessed with all Vietnamese food, these spring rolls are super fresh, healthy and are full of flavour – which after the Christmas and New Year break is exactly what some of us need!

Traditional Vietnamese Spring Rolls are usually made with pork, prawns, rice vermicelli and assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs. For this recipe Brooke uses chicken, however rice paper rolls are extremely versatile and may be made with whatever fresh ingredients you have on hand.

Rice paper rolls are easy to prepare once you have mastered the tuck and roll technique. However, they do take some time to prepare, and if this is your first time making them you may need a little practice wrapping them. Now don’t worry if one bursts open when you are rolling them, I like to consider this the “tester”.

Rice paper rolls should be served after preparation, as the rice paper can dry out, and cause them to stick to one another. To serve, you can either serve whole or sliced in half so you can see all the fresh ingredients. To accompany, I like hoisin sauce, fresh chilli and ground peanuts or you can use any other simple Vietnamese dipping sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped and 1 tsp oil
  • 400g Tegel Fresh Chicken Skinless Breast, sliced
  • 12 medium rice paper wrappers
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
    Dipping Sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp Thai sweet chilli sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice and 1 Tbsp chopped coriander

For the nuoc cham dipping sauce

Method

1. Combine the ginger, chilli and oil in a bowl. Add the Tegel Fresh Chicken Skinless Breast and mix well.

2. Heat a non stick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. Place a rice paper wrapper in a bowl of hot water for about 30 seconds or until it has softened enough to roll. Pat dry and place on a flat surface.

4. Place some of the chicken, cucumber, carrot, lettuce, mint, coriander and spring onion in a line down the centre of the rice paper wrapper, leaving about 3cm at one end. Fold up the wrapper at this end. Roll up tightly to enclose the filling, leaving the filling exposed at the top. Repeat with remaining rice paper wrappers and ingredients. Serve with the dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

1. Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl

Makes 12

The protein (meat/shrimps)

Shrimps can be found in most of the Vietnamese rice rolls unless you are going for vegetarian.

To prepare:

  • Wash the shrimps, remove the head and tail, and devein.
  • Place the shrimps in a shallow pan with some boiling water just sufficient to cover the shrimps.
  • Add a teaspoon of salt in it. Place the shrimps in the pan over low to medium heat until it changes to pink and no longer translucent.
    Remove and set aside.
  • Use a sharp knife to split the shrimp into two along the body. Remove the shell.

You do not need to add any flavor to the shrimps. The seasoning is all from the dipping sauce. If you want, you can add a small amount of salt into the water and a stick of smashed lemongrass to infuse some flavor into the shrimps.

As for the meat, pork belly (or other cuts of pork with some fat) is the popular choice.

To prepare:

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. And a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.
  • Submerge the pork into the boiling water. Reduce the heat until the water is barely boiling.
  • The meat is cooked when it floats. Use a kitchen thermometer is the best way to check if it is fully cooked.. (Internal temperature of the pork should be at least 63°C/145°F)
  • Drained and then cut it into thin slices.
  • Keep the pork broth to cook the peanut butter dipping sauce later.

You can use other sources of protein apart from pork. Chicken meat is a suitable alternative. You can also omit the shrimp and meat and use tofu as the source of protein for the vegetarian version. Use the firm tofu and cut it into thin slices in replace of the pork and shrimps.

 

Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls
Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls

 

The vegetables

Lettuce is the primary vegetable for the rice rolls, just like salad. The large piece of leaf holds other vegetables and herbs on it to minimize the smaller pieces from falling off to the edge of the rice paper that makes wrapping difficult.

Other universal inclusion ae carrot and cucumber. The crunchiness provides a big contrast with the sticky rice paper and squidgy vermicelli, rendering a satisfying mouthfeel for every bite.

You can cut them in julienne or thin slices. I prefer to cut it into matchsticks. The Japanese Mandolin makes this an easy task because I can slice the carrots and cucumber to any thickness. Stack up the slices and use a sharp knife to cut them in into fine julienne.

Another common add-on is bean sprouts. I did not include it in this recipe since there are filled with carrots and cucumbers, which is already provide sufficient crunchiness to the rice paper rolls.

The herbs

Various herbs provide the aroma lingering on your palate from your first bite. These are the typical Vietnamese herbs–basil, coriander, and mint.

Use any one of them or in combination. These are the common herbs used in Vietnamese cuisine. If you eat pho, you will sure to have plenty of basil, mint, and coriander too. You can omit either one is if you are not a fan of any of these.

Besides, scallion is a welcome addition. You can let the green section of the scallion protrude from both sides of the rice rolls as garnish.

The rice vermicelli

The inclusion of rice vermicelli qualifies the rice rolls as a completes meal- carbohydrate, proteins, fibers and some fats from the peanut butter sauce.

You do not need to cook the rice vermicelli. All you need is to soak it in hot water (do not boil) for about five minutes. The rice vermicelli will start to turn soft, and al dented. The actual duration depends on the temperature of the water and the diameter of the rice vermicelli.

Test the doneness at a one-minute interval after the third minute. Once it is al dente, drain and place it in cold water to stop cooking. Drain again, and it is ready to use. The texture should be yielding but still chewy.

The rice papers (wrappers)

The rice paper is brittle, and become sticky when it turns wet. Therefore, it is essential to keep it dry all the time.

Before you start to wrap the rice paper rolls, get ready a shallow plate of water to wet the rice papers.

There are various suggestions on how to soften the rice papers. This range from soaking with hot water to place it on kitchen towels to remove the excess water. I find that the simplest way is to use cold water, as hot water tends to soften it too fast. It may become too soft and sticky if you are slow in arranging all the ingredients on the rice papers before wrapping it.

Wrapping the rice paper rolls

There is no hard and fast rule, but I would mention how I do it for your reference.

  • Mise en place. Get all the ingredients ready because you must start to wrap within a minutes after you wet the rice paper, or it will become too sticky and unmanageable.
  • Submerge the rice paper fully into cold water for five seconds just before wrapping.
  • Remove it and place on a clean chopping board or tabletop. Dab the rice paper with a dry kitchen towel to remove the excessive water.
    Turn over the rice paper and dab dry the other side. Place it back on the dry chopping board.
  • Choose a piece of lettuce with the length about 2/3 of the diameter of the rice paper. Place the carrot, cucumber and rice vermicelli and herbs on the lettuce. Position the rice paper, slightly off-centered towards you, and leave about one inch clear from the side.
Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls
Vietnamese chicken rice paper rolls

 

  • Line the pork slices (if you use it) slightly further away from you, and the shrimps furthest away from you.
  • Start by rolling up the rice paper so that all the vegetables are encased in it. You can wait for a while if the rice paper if the rice paper is not soft enough to fold. I will break if you force it through. Wait for half a minute until it becomes softer and pliable.
    Try to roll it tight by lightly squeeze it together, but not to break it. (This is the only ‘technical’ step in making the rice paper rolls. )
  • Fold the two sides inwards like making an envelope. Then continue rolling away from you to wrap up the meat slices, and the shrimps.

It takes some practice to get it wrapped perfectly. Try to make it tight and compact to form a firm rice roll. A tighter roll looks excellent and showcases all the ingredients through the translucent rice paper.

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