Vietnamese Springs Rolls and Vermicelli Bowl
This is a staple in our house. Some weeks the ingredients for this recipe are already in our fridge, providing that we’re stocked up on some east-asian supplies.
We keep rice paper (Banh Trang) and fish sauce (three crabs is best) year round, and usually have trader joes frozen raw shrimp that we can use as a last resort. This time the shrimp came head-on unpeeled from Sun Fat in the Mission District. Looks scary, but it isn’t.
1 bunch mint
1 bunch cilantro
Firm tofu (optional)
Shrimp, peeled and boiled
butter, boston or oak leaf lettuce (soft lettuce works best, as iceberg will puncture the lettuce wraps)
For the sauce:
Thai chili peppers
Sriracha (to taste.)
Boil water in a tea kettle for both vermecelli noodles and rice paper. Also boil a pot of water for the shrimp. Meanwhile, julianne the carrot and daikon, placing both into a mixture of white vinegar, rice vinegar and water (25/25/50) salt (heavy pinch) and sugar (tbsp.)
Cut the tofu into rectangles, clean and leaf the lettuce, mint and cilantro. Mint definitely needs to be de-leafed, but cilantro can go in whole.
Put the vermicelli noodles in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them to soak for 2-3 minutes. Place the shrimp in the pot, and cook for 1 minute or until pink. Larger shrimp may take up to 3 minutes. When in doubt, pull them out.
Arrange all these ingredients on a platter and make the sauce-
The first recipe I learned in Thailand, as it’s ubiquitous on almost every street food table. Thinly slice rounds of thai chili (5 or 6) and place in a bowl with fishsauce. That’s it! The fish sauce picks up the spice quickly.
The peanut butter sauce is a combination affair, no instructions needed.
Pour the boiling water from the tea kettle into a pie dish, and serve. To assemble, submerge the wraps in the water briefly, shaking of the excess, and wrap it together as you would a burrito. The rice paper should still feel a bit firm when it comes out of the water, and it will soften up as you arrange your ingredients.
If there are leftovers, and inevitably there are, you can repurpose the entire dish for lunch.
Soften new vermicelli noodles while you prepare the sauce:
Take the leftover fish sauce/chili combo, and add lime juice and sugar, adjusting the proportions to taste. It should taste stronger than you can stand on its own, with an even balance of salt/sweet/sour.
Place your leftovers on top of the noodles, pour the sauce on top and serve.