Or, for me, they’re pretend it’s summer rolls. It’s Saturday and I am sitting in my flat looking at the pouring rain. I can’t bring myself to go outside, it’s too grim. I need to make something to lift my spirits that doesn’t require leaving the house. Something vietnamese would be nice, it’s been a while since I’ve made any vietnamese food and it reminds me of a lovely holiday I spent in Sydney last year with two old friends. A quick stocktake reveals rice paper, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli, chillis, a green pepper, a very big avocado and some fresh herbs. So, vietnamese rice paper rolls it is. Or a twist on them at least.
These look really tricky, but really they’re very simple. Rolling them is a little fiddly and you may lose the first couple through practice but once you get the hang of it you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about! I usually make these with prawns. They’re perfect for lunch and great for a light evening snack. I don’t have prawns however, so I’m making a vegetarian version. I want to make a dip using the avocado so I’ve dug out a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks – one of the Moosewood Cookbooks – Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. I bought my first Moosewood Cookbook (The Moosewood Cookbook) over 10 years ago now. I spent the summer in Dingle on the West Coast of Ireland and this was my culinary bible for the summer. It’s a vegetarian cookbook with very creative dishes which are quick, healthy & usually very easy. I have many of their cookbooks but the Moosewood Restaurant New Classics is one of my favourites. In it, the author, Mollie Katzen concentrates on vegetarian and seafood dishes cooked in their restaurant in Ithaca, NY. For this I chose the firey & healthy avocado and wasabi dressing.
This recipe is lactose free and coeliacs can eat this too as there’s no wheat. I didn’t add cucumber or carrot but if they were in my fridge I would have chopped them into matchstick shapes and added them. If you are inexperienced at rolling these use 2 rice paper wraps at a time as they won’t tear as easily. Otherwise use one. With one they look nicer and taste a little better I think. The dip is firey, I am a big wasabi fan.
Ingredients (for 10 rolls or so):
10 or 20 rice paper wraps (you can buy them in chinese, thai or vietnamese food shops)
100g rice vermicelli
100g bean sprouts
1 red chilli, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Avocado & wasabi dip:
1 tbsp wasabi powder or 1/2 tbsp wasabi paste
1 large avocado
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tsp rice vinegar
To make the rolls, soak the noodles in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain in a colander and run cold water over them until cold.
Mix together the bean sprouts, chopped chilli, green pepper & herbs.
Soak the rice paper wraps, two at a time if you are using two, in hot water (tap water is fine). I used to like to use two to have firmer, easier to roll rolls but often I use just one if I want them to look prettier and to taste delicate – e.g. if they contain prawns.
When soft and pliable (30 seconds or so) place on a clean tea towel and place some noodles (about 1/2 an inch thick) on the bottom third of the rice paper.
Place some of the bean sprout mix and some seeds on top.
Pull the sides over and roll. This may take a couple of attempts to get right but is very easy and quick when you have the knack.
For the dip just blend everything together.
Serve the rolls with the dip.