There are lots of recipes for summer rolls – Bánh tráng cuốn – out there and I’ve had them at restaurants, but I still think the way my mum does them is best.
One of the annoying things about some of these recipes is that they call for the paper to be soaked in hot water until they go soft. This is completely unnecessary, and a waste of time.
You only need to dip the paper so it’s wet all over, then take it out and lay it on the bench. By the time you’ve done five or so, the first will be ready to roll, and it’s already laid out flat for you. Use a plate of hot water, and top up if needed.
Another thing is that rice paper rolls should not be served with soya sauce!
Rice paper rolls should be served with nuoc cham – this is a sweet and sour dipping sauce basically made from equal quantities of fish sauce, vinegar (or lemon juice) and water, almost that quantity of sugar, and some chilli and garlic. I cheat and use a ready made sweet chilli sauce instead of the chilli and garlic. It’s all to taste really, but you should have a sweet and sour sauce that’s pungent but also ‘fresh’. Stir in some very finely julienned carrots and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts when serving.
The filling usually consists of cooked Asian vermicelli (thin round rice noodles), a variety of mint leaves, julienne cucumbers and some sort of shredded meat or prawns. I love using leftovers like bbq chicken or roast pork.
Except for the nouc cham, you don’t really need a recipe – it’s more about having the right ingredients and method.