My sister, Claire, makes a mean version of a Vietnamese spring roll. She makes it look easy, but I’m not going to lie, there’s a LOT of prep involved. Last night Claire julienned the hell out of carrots and cucumbers; chopped cilantro and mint; sautéed shrimp, garlic and Thai chiles; soaked cellophane noodles and rice paper; and spiced it all up with a healthy douse of Sriracha chile sauce. I observed and absorbed, and then annoyed her by snapping photos instead of helping to assemble. But what are big sisters for?
Here is an approximation of Claire’s method.
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
2-3 cloves minced garlic
Butter, for sautéeing
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
20-24 shrimp, uncooked
Thai chiles, chopped
2 ounces bean threads (cellophane noodles), soaked in hot water for 30 minutes, drained
Sriracha chile sauce
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup julienned cucumbers
1/4 cup bean sprouts
4 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 cups hot water
10-12 6-inch dried rice paper rounds
Heat butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, shrimp and thai chiles; sauté until shrimp are just cooked through, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Add Sriracha to drained cellophane noodles, to taste. We added a lot to spice things up.
Pour hot water into large pan or pie dish. Dip 1 spring-roll sheet in water 5 seconds. Remove from water; place on wet towel to blot, and then on cutting board to assemble.
Sprinkle cilantro and mint on round, then heap noodles, carrots, cucumbers and bean sprouts on wrapper and spoon 2 shrimp with chiles on top.
Fold in ends of round like a burrito. Roll into cylinder, and place on plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Serve with peanut dipping sauce and/or Sriracha. I like to dip the spring rolls directly into the Sriracha to kick up the heat. And call me crazy and unseasonal, but a coriander-forward gin like Aviation mixed in a gin and tonic with a splash of lime is a pretty fine accompaniment to the meal!