Mister Principessa and I have been going through some kind of Vietnamese food phase over the past few months. We roasted a pork tenderloin this past Friday, which gave us plenty of leftovers and an excuse to make spring rolls yet again. So that’s what we did for dinner last night.
The first thing we did was prep all our ingredients. With spring rolls, the prep is sort of fiddly, but the actual assembly takes no time at all. We use shredded romaine lettuce in our rolls, and it takes a while to dry, so that’s the first thing we prepped. And by “we prepped,” I mean “Mister Principessa prepped while I stood around and took pictures.”
Note: This post is VERY picture-heavy. Click ’em for bigguns.
Next we dealt with the basil. The leaves go into the rolls whole, so we just wash them and let them dry.
I prepared the vermicelli (rice noodles), which is super easy. All you do is cover them with boiling water and let them soak until they’re soft, then drain them. Done and done!
Then Mister Principessa dealt with the meaty items. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, you could just omit this step, or you could use baked tofu or something similar. Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook Veganomicon has an outstanding recipe for baked tofu with Asian flavors, which I think would be delicious here.
First, we had that pork tenderloin to deal with. All the Mister did was slice it into thin medallions.
This seems like as good a time as any to point out that I’m fairly sure this “recipe” isn’t authentic. We might have started out using a recipe from a Vietnamese cookbook, but it’s sort of evolved based on what we think tastes good.
Anyway. We also did some shrimp. All I did was boil them in salted water, then cool them and relieve them of their shells. The Mister split them lengthwise so we ended up with flat little half shrimpies.
And finally … the pickles. I have no idea if Vietnamese people put these in spring rolls, but the Mister and I do. They are SMELLY and I LOVE them. We’ve tried to make them ourselves, but they just don’t come out right, so we just buy them at Lee’s.
Also, a beer!
And then the rolling commences. We buy our rice “paper” wrappers (and the vermicelli, for that matter) at 99 Ranch Market, a pretty well-known and very cheap Asian market that seems to have quite a few locations here in CA.
You can see how stiff they are before you get them wet. (That’s what she said. Zing!)
Mister Principessa runs them under the faucet to soak them. You can also dip them into a bowl or pan of water.
I think the water in that picture came out great, don’t you?
The dampened wrapper goes onto the cutting board, and the stacking of ingredients commences!
Then it gets folded over and rolled. Don’t roll it all the way up yet, because you still have all those shrimpies and basil leaves and pickles to add.
So … add them!
Finish rolling it over.
And Bob’s your uncle!
Mister Principessa firmly believes that more is more, so our spring rolls tend to be the size of small burritos. Couple of those and you’re good for the night. We usually eat them with peanut sauce, but I was too lazy to make it, so we ate them with this Japanese sesame dressing.