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Monday, 4 March 2013

Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

I've spoken before of my deep love for Vietnamese food; it's light, fresh, and zingy, and a perfect accompaniment to the Spring season emerging from hibernation right now. 

These goi cuon are a Vietnamese version of the Chinese spring roll, but instead of being deep-fried and crispy, they're made from soft, sticky gluten-free rice paper. I've swapped the traditional pork loin filling for a lighter pork mince, and removed all traces of peanuts from the recipe. Don't be put off by the exotic-sounding ingredients; I bought all of mine (except the rice paper) from a normal supermarket.

Ingredients to serve 4: 

12 sheets of 22cm diameter rice paper (I used Longdan's; available from Asian supermarkets)

For the filling: 

300g of lean minced pork
175g of small ready-cooked and peeled prawns, roughly chopped
100g of ready-cooked vermicelli rice noodles
50g of raw beansprouts, roughly chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp of sesame oil (plus a little extra for greasing)
1 tbsp of vegetable oil
1/2 tsp of five spice
1 tsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of Chinese rice vinegar
2 tbsps of coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp of Thai basil, finely chopped
1 tsp of palm sugar, ground in a pestle and mortar

For the nuoc cham (dipping sauce): 

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 a red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 tsps of fish sauce
2 tsps of Chinese rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsps of palm sugar, ground in a pestle and mortar
2 tbsps of warm water

Firstly prepare the nuoc cham by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and whisking together with a fork, then set aside until needed. 

For the filling begin by mixing the pork mince in a large bowl with the five spice and sesame oil, then fry in a pan with the vegetable oil for 10 minutes until cooked through. When done remove the pork from the heat and transfer to a large bowl (complete with residual juices). 

When the pork has cooled for a couple of minutes add the prawns, noodles, herbs, and sprouts and mix together well. In a separate bowl whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and palm sugar and then add to the meat mixture and stir together so that the dressing coats the other ingredients. 

The rice paper is packaged dry and needs soaking before use. Firstly fill a large tray with 2cm deep of cold water, grab a clean, dry tea towel, and lightly grease a large plate with sesame oil; this prevents the rice paper from sticking and ripping. Take a sheet of rice paper and soak for about a minute in the water, then remove and blot dry on the tea towel. When the paper becomes soft and slightly sticky to the touch lay it flat on the greased plate. Spoon some of the filling mixture (2-3 tbsps) into the middle of the rice paper sheet and fold both the left and right side of the paper inwards, over the filling. Then fold the bottom of the rice paper up over the filling and tightly roll away from you, up the paper. The paper will stick together without any need for additional water. For more advice on rolling, have a look at this video

Divide the nuoc cham between 4 small bowls; serve 2-3 goi cuon per person with a bowl of nuoc cham each. 

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