Everyone seems to love Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. I too love these crunchy salad rolls bursting with the flavour of fresh herbs and vegetables that are all naturally gluten free.
At a recent hands-on cooking class featuring rice noodles students made these salad rolls. Everyone finds them a bit of a challenge at first but once they roll up a few and figure out how much filling to use they come together easily. You might want to eat the first few you make in case they don’t look as good as you would like them to.
I suggest you make them for yourself a few times before you serve them to friends. This way you will be reminded how important the prep is and will get the hang of working with rice paper. Then you can even invite your friends to roll them up with you, a great party activity!
I like to prepare all the ingredients including the nuoc cham sauce the day before I make and serve my salad rolls to company. This way assembling them isn’t too much work. I line up all the containers on the counter; soft rice vermicelli, grated carrot, chopped lettuce, cooked shrimp and fresh herbs. Then I get a large bowl with hot water for soaking the rice paper (I know exactly which bowl to use for this purpose) and my little assembly line is ready.
You can vary the fillings to suit your taste. Try chopped red or yellow peppers, finely julienned jicama sticks or cucumber, juicy mango, bean sprouts and any protein like chicken, pork or salmon.
Rice paper wrappers are made from a mixture of rice flour, water and salt then rolled and dried into very brittle, thin shapes. The round papers are used for salad rolls and spring rolls, while the triangular ones are traditionally used at the table to wrap grilled foods. The wrappers are often sold in hard plastic containers and should be stored flat in the container or an air tight plastic bag. If left open they will curl up and loose their shape.
To use them soften sheets one at a time in hot water. Slip the wrapper into the water for a few seconds until it becomes flexible enough to work with. Place the wrapper on the counter or a cutting board and add a small amount of filling on the bottom third of the wrapper. Fold the bottom up to cover the filling. Then fold the two sides into the middle. Now roll the filling up until you have a small sausage shape roll.
I roll up about 12 or 24 salad rolls at a time depending on the occasion. Place them in a single layer on a tray and cover with plastic wrap. They can be stored in the fridge for up to 8 hours before serving.
Salad rolls can be served whole or cut in half. You can garnish your plates or platter with the fresh herbs that you used in the filling. When I want an idea for a different presentation I just type the name of my recipe into the Google Images search bar and voila, more ideas than I have time to look at. I hope you’ll give them a try!
|rice paper wrappers|
|cooked shrimp, halved horizontally (3 halves per salad roll)|
|fine rice noodles|
|lettuce, finely shredded|
|carrot, finely shredded|
|cilantro, Thai basil and/or mint leaves|
|NUOC CHAM DIPPING SAUCE|
|½ tsp crushed chiles|
|½ Tbsp vinegar|
|½ cup fish sauce|
|¼ cup lime juice|
|¾ cup warm water|
|½ small carrot, shredded|
|2 cloves garlic, minced|
|½ cup sugar|
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