Spring rolls are one of the most popular Vietnamese dishes you can find in the Unites States (other than pho), and for good reason. In the hotter seasons especially, there’s something irresistible about their cool freshness.
Thai basil, mint, cilantro, pork, and shrimp, to name a few make up this version. The shrimp is poached with lemongrass to add some extra flavor, but is optional.
Once you’ve prepped all of your filling ingredients, it’s just a matter of assembling the spring rolls. The rice paper is dipped in warm water, but it is important to only dip until the paper starts to become pliable. Let the rice paper soak for about 10 to 15 seconds, until it still has structure but can still be bent, before laying it on the rolling platform.
When serving these immediately, plan to cover the finished rolls with a slightly damp kitchen towel. If you want to store them for a longer period, stack layers of rolls, separated with plastic wrap, on a plate, cover the whole plate with plastic wrap, and keep refrigerated.
- 1/2 pound pork (loin, shoulder, and/or belly)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 stalks lemongrass, crushed (optional)
- 4 ounces rice vermicelli
- 1 package (12 ounces) 8 1/2-inch rice paper wrappers
- 6 leaves lettuce, iceberg or romaine, torn in half
- 1 cup carrots cut into matchsticks
- 1 cup cucumbers cut into matchsticks
- 1 handful Fresh mint
- 1 handful Fresh Thai basil
- 1 handful Fresh cilantro
- 1 handful Garlic chives
- Cook the pork: In a medium pot, add pork, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Add enough water so that the pork is submerged. Bring water to a boil and then lower heat to medium. Boil for 30 minutes, until the pork floats and a chopstick inserted into the meat does not run pink. Let cool, then remove the meat and slice it into very thin slices. Reserve some of the broth to make dipping sauce (see below).
- Cook the shrimp: Add a pinch of salt and the lemongrass to a large pot filled with water. Add the shrimp and return the water to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until shrimp is no longer translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp and poaching liquid cool together to room temperature.
- Fill a large shallow plate with warm water. Dip one sheet of rice paper into the warm water and let it soak until it starts to become bendable but still has a structure, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to your rolling surface. At the bottom third of the rice paper, lay down a torn leaf of lettuce. Top with cucumber and carrot. Top with slices of pork and arrange some vermicelli over top. Top with torn herbs and garlic chives. Place 3 or 4 shrimp halves across the center of the rice paper. Begin rolling, tucking the sides in as you roll. Transfer roll to a platter and repeat until you’ve used up all of the ingredients.
- Cook the vermicelli according to directions on the package. I added vermicelli to boiling water and cooked for 4 to 5 minutes, until soft but al dente. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and drain thoroughly.
2 Tbsp Sriracha chile sauce
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp brown sugar
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients to blend thoroughly. Serve and enjoy. Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Peanut Dipping Sauce Ingredients
4 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons pork broth
2 tablespoon peanut butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
Whisk together the hoisin, pork broth, and peanut butter.In a small fry pan, heat the garlic and oil and sautée until fragrant. Add the hoisin sauce mixture and the sugar, then simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until thick. Let cool.Top with peanuts.