Vietnamese rice paper rolls are easy to make but can be daunting to the uninitiated. They make a fairly regular appearance on our gluten free family table as a DIY affair, and my offspring learned to assemble their own rolls from quite a young age, although it’s fair to say their first attempts were pretty ramshackle. I prepare the poached chicken, julienned vegetables, cooked noodles and washed herbs, and rustle up a quick dipping sauce to go alongside. If time is short, then sweet Thai chill sauce will serve as an accompaniment instead.
What we prepare might bear little resemblance to an authentic Vietnamese rice paper roll, but it does make a fresh , healthy supper, which is almost fat-free. All the elements can be prepared well in advance and stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Children are always more keen to try foods they have had a hand in preparing, so why not give these a go. Be as adventurous as you like. I made a lesser-known but actually very traditional version recently with some pieces of fried white fish fillet, cucumber, fresh dill and thin slices of pineapple – delicious.
Two words of caution though – I would suggest you retain control over the dipping of the papers, as a spilled bowl of hot water is not likely to provide a fun-filled interlude at dinner time. And be careful if serving this version to a Vietnamese guest. The addition of a slick of GF hoisin sauce inside the wrapper is clearly an abomination on the part of my family. Not at all authentic, but very tasty indeed.
- 2-3 chicken breasts
- 3 slices of ginger
- bee noon or vermicelli noodles, prepared according to the packet
- 1 cucumber, peeled, deseeded and julienned
- 3 carrots, peeled and julienned
- 6 spring onions, julienned
- handful of fresh coriander, leaves washed and picked from stems
- handful of fresh mint, washed
- handful of fresh basil, washed
- hoisin sauce (optional)
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- juice of 3 limes
- 1/2 fresh long red finger chilli, chopped finely
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Poach the chicken breasts by placing them in a shallow pan and covering with water. Add the ginger, place over a medium heat and as soon as the water comes to the boil, turn off the gas, cover with a fitting lid and leave for 20 mins. Remove from the water and chill.
- Prepare a large shallow bowl of warm water for dipping.
- Dip one paper at a time into the water until just wet - several seconds only. Do not wait for the paper to soften in the bowl, or it will be impossible to handle. Place on a plate while still quite stiff, it will soften on the plate as the water is absorbed.
- Place some of the herbs on the bottom third of the paper, then make layers of chicken, vegetables, noodles and some hoisin sauce if using.
- Fold the bottom third of the paper up and then roll up, tucking in the sides as you go. Slice in half to serve, or leave open at one end for a more authentic look.
- Serve with the dipping sauce, made by stirring all the ingredients together until the sugar has dissolved, or Thai sweet chilli sauce.
- thinly sliced rare tuna
- cooked prawns
- fresh dill
- roasted duck breast
- grilled marinated pork
There are some things I would never dream of ordering in France. One of them is a salade chèvre chaud – usually an oozy slice of goat cheese on a piece of sourdough toast served on dressed salad leaves. I’m not sure which friend passed this idea on to me first – Steph in the Alps or Sarah on the Ile de Ré. Yes I’m lucky enough to have friends living in amazing parts of France. And even luckier that they invite us to stay with them. And just occasionally lucky enough to be on the receiving end of a great idea for a gluten free recipe from one of these gluten eaters!
I used a mixture of olive oil and walnut oil for the dressing and ideally I would have added toasted chopped walnuts rather than pine nuts. However, seeing as how my pine nuts had been hanging around the kitchen cupboard for a while and considering that a small packet costs way more than my monthly salary right now (haha!) I used them up. Next time I would definitely go the walnut route.
The salad dressing makes enough for 4 people or more, but some folk like more dressing than others and I usually have some dressing leftover in my fridge to rustle up a quick lunch or side salad. I like to leave the skins on the apples for a bit of colour and texture. Peel the apples if yours are less than pretty.
This would make a great starter or light lunch. Enjoy!
- 1 apple, washed
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 handfuls washed salad leaves
- 2 cabecou (individual cheeses) or slices of a log of goat cheese
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- fine sea salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp walnut oil
- Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over medium heat until toasted.
- Core the apple and cut two 1com thick slices. Place on a baking sheet.
- Preheat the grill (medium).
- Make the dressing by stirring together the mustard, salt, pepper and vinegar then whisking in the oils.
- Drizzle half a tsp of the dressing over the top surface of each apple ring.
- Grill for 3-5 mins.
- Dress the salad leaves with as much of the dressing as you like (store the remainder for another day in the fridge).
- Place goat cheese on top of each apple slice, return to grill and grill for 5 mins until cheese is starting to bubble and apples starting to brown at edges.
- Place the apple and cheese on the salad and serve immediately.