Thursday, July 27, 2017

Roll out the fresh veggies, Vietnam style

As a Burmese I love all types of kaw pyant (spring rolls) — fried, steamed or fresh. They are the perfect size for nibbling, and make good filler for a hungry stomach. Plenty of innovative fried spring rolls are available at street stalls these days, from savoury to sweet. I prefer fried spring rolls with corn, as well as with fried banana.

A few weeks ago while grocery shopping I found packets of rice paper that can be used for Vietnamese-style rolls. I was excited that I could make rice paper rolls for my family in Myanmar.

Vietnamese rice paper rolls are different from fresh kaw pyant. In Myanmar, when we roll fresh spring rolls, we stir-fry the vegetables and meat, then wrap them with thin spring roll sheets. Vietnamese rice paper rolls use fresh vegetables, herbs, steamed noodles, and cooked or grilled meat, which are wrapped with soft, thin, clear rice sheets. They are a bit healthier than fried rolls.

This week I am introducing two types of Vietnamese rice paper roll: one from the country’s south with prawns, and one from the north using grilled pork.

Vietnamese rice paper roll (summer roll)

(6 servings)

12 sheets of rice paper (khun yuy)

70g of rice vermicelli (moh hin gar phat)

6 big prawns (cooked, de-shelled and chilled)

A bunch of lettuce

A bunch of garlic chives (khu sai; cut into 4-5cm lengths)

A couple bunches of mint (pick leaves)

A bunch of Asian basil (pick leaves)

3 big green shallots (white and light green parts only; cut bigger pieces into halves or quarters)


Fresh rice vermicelli can be bought at local markets, while dry packets are available at bigger supermarkets. Prepare according to package instructions.

Wash the prawns thoroughly and cook them for 3-4 minutes in slightly salty, boiling water. Rinse with fresh water and drain well, then de-shell and de-vein. Halve them from the back and set aside.

Wash the lettuce, garlic chives, mint, basil and green shallots. Drain well and let them dry.

Prepare lukewarm water in a shallow bowl that can fit the size of the rice paper. To prepare the rice paper, slowly dip one sheet into the water by holding it at one end and gently moving it around. Make sure it becomes slightly soft but not soaked through. Lay the sheet on a chopping board or plate.

Place a 7-8cm length of lettuce about 1/3 of the way from one end of the rice paper. Arrange a handful of rice vermicelli, two chives, five or six mint leaves, and basil leaves on top of the lettuce as filling.

Fold the bottom end of the rice paper over the filling and roll upward. Handle gently and don’t pull it tight. Fold the left and right ends of the rice paper toward the centre and roll upward again.

Lay two pieces of prawn and a piece of shallot over the prawn along the length of the rice paper, then roll tightly toward the top end. Arrange the roll on a plate with the prawns on the upward side.