I had this a few times at Thai’s Vietnamese family meals. I loved these DIY rolls. It’s totally one of those really awesome communal eating occasions that I love so much. The idea is you prepare all the salads, noodles and sauce and get everyone to help themselves with the rolls. Genius. Entertain guests without lots of efforts. Amount of ingredients listed here are for abou4 people.
(my roll. nom nom)
There are quite a few combinations of these rice paper rolls. Beef and onion rice paper rolls go with nuoc cham sauce. Simple boiled, sliced pork, cooked prawns or steamed fish go well with the hoisin/peanut sauce. I quite like the beef & onion combination a little more so I make that a bit more often.
So start with the sauce. This is basically my version of nuoc cham – Vietnamese dipping sauce. I have to admit I don’t do it very well but for this occasion, it will do. You might want to have a look at SBS Food version. Frankly, I just couldn’t bring myself to put in that much sugar.
Nuoc Cham (my way)
- 1 bird eye’s chilli
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 juice of a lemon (about 3 tbsp)
- 3 tbsp of fish sauce
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 3 tbsp of hot water
Lightly crush the chilli and garlic in a pestle and mortar. Scoop into a bowl and add other ingredients. Mix well. Spoon into a dipping bowl for each individual guest (you want to do this, it gets awfully messy when you start dipping the roll in so you don’t want to share the sauce).
Salad & Herbs
- 2 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
- 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 2 cups of fresh beansprouts
- 1/4 of lettuce, sliced into strips
- 1 small bunch of coriander
- 1 small bunch of Thai basil
- 1 small bunch of mint
- 1 small bunch of Vietnamese mint
Try to at least at two of the herbs listed above. Get the freshest, nicest looking bunches of herbs you could find. Better yet, it’s almost summer. Grow your own!
- 4 cakes of Vietnamese-style rice vermicelli (bun)
Place the noodles in boiling water and cook for 3 minutes. Drain well and rinse under cold running water. Rest in a colander. 4 cakes of noodles are rather a lot for four people, but it’s better to have excess than run out at the end.
Beef and Onion
- 1 onion, sliced
- 350 g. sirloin steak, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp of butter
Cook the beef, onion and butter on medium heat until the meat coloured and the onion soften. I recommend cooking this up in 2-3 batches. Make a batch at a time, serve and eat. Only start to cook another batch once the previous one runs out. That way the meat and onion remains hot.
Because it’s cooked in butter, you don’t want to eat it once it gets cold. When I was over at someone’s house last time, they actually had one of those portable stove top and cook the beef as they eat. I don’t have that so I had to cook the meat in batches.
Putting them all together
Place a large bowl of hot water (3 parts boiling water, 1 part cold) on the table. Dip one corner of the rice paper into the bowl and spin it around so that all of the rice paper touch the hot water. Remove and place it on your plate. The rice paper will soften as you pile on your ingredients so don’t worry if it still feels too firm.
Place some noodles, salad, herbs and beef & onion on the rice paper. Roll the paper forward and bring the two sides in and roll the rest of the way. If you’re still unsure how this is done, have a search on how to roll rice paper roll or spring rolls. Pretty much the same basic principles apply. Bear in mind that it doesn’t have to be neat. The evidence gets destroyed anyway!
See? I seriously am hopeless at it.
And if you have OCD (*cough*Joshua*cough*), your roll would look like this. Yes the onion slice did get turned around so that they faced the same way after I took a photo.