A good Vietnamese salad roll is one of my all-time favourite things. When I lived in Vancouver, there was a great Vietnamese place called Vina round the corner from my apartment, and I would regularly pick up an order of salad rolls for dinner on the way home from work.
Since moving to London, I’ve learned to make my own salad rolls. The rolling takes a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, they are dead simple to make. My fail-safe technique is to slightly wet the wrappers under the tap before assembling the rolls on a damp tea towel. By the time I’m ready to roll, the wrapper is perfectly softened and pliable.
My dipping sauce is an attempt to reproduce the “highlander” sauce they served at Vina. I assume there must be highlands in Vietnam, although given the number of Greco-Roman restaurants in Vancouver, I suppose a Scots-Vietnamese sauce is a possibility…
Vietnamese salad rolls
- 16 large cooked prawns, sliced in half lengthwise
- 8 soft lettuce leaves
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thin batons
- 1/2 a cucumber, cut into thin batons
- 2 green onions, halved then sliced lengthwise
- 2 nests of vermicelli noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 cup fresh beansprouts (optional)
- fresh herbs: coriander, mint, Vietnamese coriander, basil…
- 8 rice paper wrappers
For the dipping sauce:
- 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1/2 a lime, juiced
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 2-3 Tb water
- Wet a clean tea towel, wring out the excess moisture and spread it on your work surface.
- Arrange the salad roll fillings – prawns, lettuce, carrot, cucumber, onions, noodles, herbs and bean sprouts (if using) – within easy reach.
- Hold a rice paper wrapper under a running tap for a few seconds a side, then place on the damp tea towel. It should feel a bit stiff, but will soften further as you assemble the salad roll.
- Arrange four prawn pieces (cut side up) in a horizontal line along the bottom half of the wrapper.
- Cover the prawns with a lettuce leaf, a handful of vermicelli noodles, then some vegetables and herbs. (Don’t be heavy-handed – over-filling makes the rolls difficult to roll.)
- Bring the bottom edge of the wrapper over the filling, fold in the sides, then roll the wrapper tightly away from you.
- Place the finished salad roll on a plate, seam down, and make the remaining seven the same way.
- To make the dipping sauce, mix together the hoisin sauce, peanut butter, lime juice and soy sauce. Thin with water until it is the desired consistency.