Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Old school" spring rolls & the "real" sauce

When we were little kids in Vietnam, my cousin & I had quite a few eating habit that we would do together. One of our routines, was afternoon visits to the vendor around the corner. The lady sold fresh cut fruits, creme caramel, agar-agar jelly, "che" (Vietnamese rice pudding) freshly made "goi cuon" (spring rolls) "bi cuon" (pork rolls) and occasionally the man with his cart of "goi du du kho bo" (green papaya & beef jerky salad) was there too. Now that's what I call snacking!

My usual always included one spring roll no matter what else I ordered. It would come with a little bowl of sauce that is slightly sweet & salty, topped with a small bundle of "do chua" (pickled shredded carrots & daikon) then sprinkled with chopped peanuts.

THAT is the sauce that you're supposed to get with your spring rolls when you order in a Vietnamese restaurants, not the peanut sauce, which is Thai.

To make "old-school" spring rolls, you will need:
  • A big bowl of warm water to soak the rice paper.
  • Rice paper
  • Lettuce, washed
  • Mint leaves, washed & stemmed
  • Coriander, washed & stemmed
  • Asian Chives, washed (also called Garlic Chives, the part that has no flower bulbs)
  • Vermicelli, cooked as according to package, drained thoroughly.
  • Pork (optional, cooked & thinly sliced)
  • Shrimp (optional, cooked & split horizontally)
Dip the rice paper in the bowl of water half way through, and quickly turn it to moisten the whole thing. Shake off excess & immediately place on plate. After 30 seconds or so, when the water is evaporated, you can start rolling away. Make a roll-your-own spring roll party, your friends will love it.

To make THE sauce, here is my mom's recipe:
  • a dash of olive oil, or canola oil
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 a small onion, sliced
  • Hoisin sauce (about 1-2 cups, depends on you)
  • a couple of spoons of water
  • Sriracha hot sauce (optional)
  • Vietnamese "do chua" (optional, you can buy them in Vietnamese food/sandwich stores)
  • crushed roasted peanuts
In a sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat, throw the garlic and onions in and stir around until fragrant & brown.

Put Hoisin sauce in.Heat through until it starts to bubble a bit. Put in some water and stir well to blend (Put more if you like your sauce more liquid) Take it off the heat & mix in Sriracha hot sauce if you want.

This is the "old school" version of Vietnamese spring rolls, but of course you can make them with whatever you like. Add julienned green mango, bell pepper, bean sprouts, cooked fish, chicken, or cooked strips of tofu. The sky is the limit!


Anonymous said...

Hey Tram,
Love the new blog, love the pictures. I had to wait until I was 24 to discover the pleasures of street food. Actually, I had a glimpse of it with Mexican fishermen in my teens but nothing like the stuff here in Asia. Every city, if not neighborhood, has its own specialty or variation, and a few cents here and there will keep you eating new stuff all day long. (Now my favorite past time when traveling)Korean Gimbap, Japanese noodles, Chinese lamb skewers, Thai crab cakes, Philippino burgers, and the list goes on. I still think someone should write a coffee table/recipe book about street food vendors across the world. We are seriously missing out in the west with our germ-phobia. Besides New York Hotdogs, (which are quite good) what have we got?

Although "real" spring rolls with "real" sauce was a highlight of Vietnam, those pork sandwiches (Ban mi ti, are they? Excuse my Vietnamese!)were out of this freakin' world. I am a sandwich fanatic and I can honestly say that Vietnam has the best sandwiches in the world. No contest.

Keep it up Tram, you are a pleasure to read.

Ben M.

"Tramie" said...

hey Ben!!!! Thanx so much for the encouragement! It really means a lot to read ur comment!

I definitely love to gloat about street food in Vietnam & i follow a website that u might really enjoy since ur in Asia now. These guys are committed to street food all over Asia, it's crazy!


Enjoy!!!! :)

Justin said...

funny, a co-worker asked me for a recipe for making this last week, and I didn't know where to direct him. looks good.

chocolatecup said...

yumsyummmmmmmmmmmmmmmms! i am so hungry right now!