Vietnamese rice paper rolls
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