I love these little bundles of flavour. Vietnamese salad rolls (sometimes called summer rolls) are a popular appetizer around the world – they even checked in at number 30 on World’s 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011! They are quick to make as no cooking is required; you can prepare them ahead of time for a party, or have all the ingredients ready and invite your guests to assemble their own. Feel free to experiment with fillings – shrimp are lovely in these rolls, as are other herbs such as cilantro. Look for smaller 6-inch (15 cm) rice paper rounds – these make the perfect two-bite salad rolls.
3 oz vermicelli rice stick noodles *
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package 6 inch rice paper rounds *
1 bunch fresh mint leaves
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
½ English cucumber, cut in 1/8″ x 2.5″ matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/8” x 2.5″ matchsticks
1 red pepper, cut in thin julienne strips
1 firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, cut in 1/8″ x 2.5″ matchsticks
Sweet chili sauce for dipping *
* available at many supermarkets or at Asian food stores
- Slice all filling ingredients and separate mint and basil leaves from stems.
- Put vermicelli in a heatproof bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit until tender (about 3 – 5 minutes).
- While noodles are softening, stir together vinegar, sugar, and salt in a little bowl until sugar is dissolved.
- Drain noodles using a sieve or colander. Return them to the empty bowl they were soaking in and drizzle vinegar mixture over top. Stir to distribute evenly.
- Put a dampened tea towel on a work surface and fill a shallow baking pan with warm water.
- Check rice-paper rounds and use only those that have no holes. Soak 1 round in the pan of warm water until pliable, about 30 seconds, then carefully transfer to tea towel. Do not over soak or the paper will be hard to work with.
- Quantities of filling given here are for smaller (6 inch) rice paper rounds; you can double them if using 12 inch rice paper. Spread about a tablespoon of noodles on the rice paper about 1” from the bottom edge (closest to you) then arrange remaining fillings, placing 2 mint leaves, 2 each of cucumber, carrot, mango and red pepper pieces and two basil leaves horizontally on top of noodles. Note that if you overfill, the wrappers will be hard to roll up.
- Fold bottom and sides of rice paper over filling and roll up tightly, applying a little pressure to ensure the roll sticks together.
- Transfer salad roll, seam side down, to a plate and cover with dampened tea towel Make more rolls in same manner and serve, halved diagonally, with sweet chilli sauce for dipping.
- Can be made 4-6 hours ahead and chilled, covered with dampened towel and then with plastic wrap. Bring to room temperature before serving. Also still good the next day provided you keep them well wrapped.
Makes approximately 20 small salad rolls (fewer if you use the larger rice paper rounds).