Sometimes, the best away around getting on with work is just not to do any at all. So it was on Tuesday, when we sat down to write recipes together, that we found ourselves distracted by the thought of lunch, and a lunch that that would take a long, long time to put together so that through making it, we could fool ourselves into thinking we were working. Introducing the Vietnamese Summer Roll, from long-time procrastinators, Ellie Grace and Rosie French.
Having bought rice vermicelli noodles and rice paper circles on a recent visit to China Town’s New Year celebrations, we cycled down to the market for a bunch of herbs, some iceberg, rice vinegar and prawns from our local Chinese supermarket. Back at home, Rosie chopped while I peeled prawns and soaked the rice paper circles in warm water, ready for wrapping.
Makes about 10 summer rolls, with dipping sauce
For the rolls:
A pint of prawns, shelled
Half a head of iceberg lettuce, finely shredded
A small carrot, cut into matchsticks
A packet of rice paper circles (marked especially for Vietnamese summer rolls)
A packet of rice vermicelli noodles
A handful each of mint and coriander, finely chopped
A handful of unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
For the dipping sauce:
1 large red chilli finely sliced, with seeds
2 tbsps fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
Measure and combine the dipping sauce ingredients into a small dish or ramekin and set aside. Break off a section of dried noodles 2 -3 inches in width and boil until tender. Refresh under the cold tap and set aside. Peel the prawns, rinse and place in a bowl. When the vegetables and herbs are cut and lined up, start by soaking 3 or 4 rice paper circles in a bowl of tepid water, one after another, for 2 seconds. This won’t soften them immediately but as you plate them up, you’ll find that they warp and soften very quickly. As you pull each one from the water, it’s best to plate them between layers of tin foil or greaseproof paper to stop them from sticking. You can soften more rice paper circles as you go.
Using your outspread hand or a clean plate as a base, line up a few prawns at the centre of the paper. Pile a little lettuce, carrot, noodles, herbs and peanuts in a row below and fold the paper circle upwards into a roll, tucking the edges in after the first roll to create sealed ends. Continue to roll as tightly as you can – their gelatinous skins are tougher than they first appear – and allow the rice paper to seal itself together. When you’ve made several, stack them up and dip them!