I still remember the day that I asked Andrew this question "what kind of food do you like best?" It is one of those questions you ask during the early dating months, when you are so excited and want to find out everything that there is to know about the other person...
Well, I could have never guessed the answer that came for that question:Vietnamese food. It was a shock for me...
What?? Vietnamese food? What is Vietnamese food? Yup, it's true....I did not know what Vietnamese food was until then. I never actually had a chance to try it until 2004 when I first went to Canada. Needless to say, it was love at first bite. Although there is a lot of meat dishes, I always find nice vegetarian things to eat a Vietnamese restaurant.
So, because it is one of Andrew's favourite foods, I really wanted to learn to make it. It turns out that it is pain in the neck! This was not the first time I made those rolls, I've been practicing for some time. At first, they would break and stick to my fingers. Then, I would manage to make the rolls but the ingredients were all mixed inside and you couldn't tell the shrimp rolls from the tofu or pork ones. I think I finally got it right.
One of the things that helped me was to watch some online videos (this and this). I also got some tips from White on Rice Couple, they have a nice page on how to wrap a rice paper roll that is very helpful. I also got some inspiration from their blog on marinating the tofu pieces for the rolls. Thanks guys!
So I decided to make my own video to show how to make those tricky rolls. This is my first video-recipe, and I am really excited about it. It's not high quality, nor it is meant to be a Utube sensation. But it will hopefully help someone.
First it is important to have all your ingredients ready to go before you start. The fillings for these summer rolls can vary. Some restaurants serve a mix of pork and shrimp, some have it separately, some have tofu and some have only vegetables as a vegetarian option.
You will need:
Rice paper wrapper , plus a bowl of warm warm water to soak them
Rice noodles, cooked and cooled
Shredded or julienned carrots
Fresh mint leaves
Cooked shrimp, split in half lengthwise
Firm tofu, sliced (see note on tofu bellow)
Chives for decoration (optional)
I served these with a store bought peanut sauce, and added some extra crushed peanuts on top.
If you are using tofu, for each 8 oz make a marinade with: 1 clove of chushed garlic, equal parts of soy sauce and vegetable oil (about 1 cup total), a spalsh of sesame oil, 1/2 tbsp of curry powder, 1/4 teas of cumin ,salt, pepper (keep in mind that the soy sauce is already salty). Marinate the tofu for about 1 hour, then pan fry it on a skillet until crisp and golden. Slice into strips.
To make the rolls, first have all ingredients within your reach, including the bow of water. Working with one at the time, soak the rice paper for about 20-30 seconds and place it on a flat surface (I use a large plate).
Place 3 pieces of shrimp, or 1 slice of tofu on the top half of the rice paper.Directly under it (on the lower end of the paper), place the lettuce, beans sprouts, carrots, mint and noodles. Placing the noodles last will make it easier to wrap the roll.
Now to the tricky part: to wrap the roll, start from the sides, folding each side towards the middle making sure they overlap in one point so they will stick together. Roll it from the bottom up, stopping half way to add a piece of chive , if using.