Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rolling, rolling, rolling

In my recent escape from Amsterdam's prevailing winter, I travelled to Vietnam and learned how the vietnamese love to roll.

I'm not talking about gangsta style "rollin". I'm referring to how the Vietnamese seem to want to roll anything - fish, meat, noodles, vegetables, herbs, you name it - into a little rice paper wrapper. I savoured and feasted on many a roll, from the traditional Goi Cuon to the more exotic Chao Tom Cuon, shrimp paste barbecued on a sugarcane stick, complete with slices of unripe starfruit and garlic chives, all in a humble little rice paper roll.
Testing my rolling skills with a Chao Tom Cuon

Last night we paid tribute to the wonderful time we spent in Vietnam. ABBA* in the back ground and Goi Cuon in hand, it almost felt like we were back in Saigon, sat by the Lê Lợi watching what seemed like a million motorcycles go by...

Vietnamese summer rolls (Goi Cuon)
What I put in (Enough for 4):

12-16 Rice paper wrappers
1 cucumber, sliced into strips
200g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked
Shrimp, cooked and shelled.
12 -16 butter lettuce leaves
Beans sprouts
Bunch of Thai basil, stemmed
Bunch of fresh mint leaves, stemmed
Coriander leaves
Garlic chives (nice if you can get these)

Serve with peanut sauce or nuoc cham, traditional vietnamese dip made of lime juice, brown sugar and vietnamese fish sauce.

How to make it:
Dip the rice paper wrapper into warm water for about 10 seconds or until soft, then place a a lettuce leaf, a slice of cucumber, a couple of bean sprouts and shrimp slices, 2 or 3 basil, mint and coriander leaves carefully in the middle (leave a couple of cm uncovered on each side). Fold in the sides of the wrapper then roll it tightly into a roll. This is generally something that needs a little practice. The greedy will learn quickly that over-stuffing a roll will lead to well.. you'll see. Don't worry, the broken rolls taste pretty much just as good :)

*Peculiarly music seems to be stuck in the 70s in Vietnam. ABBA can be heard in many a restaurant in Saigon today..


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