Spring rolls are eaten everywhere in the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam, filled with many different varieties of fish, herbs and vegetables. During my recent visit to the country, I enjoyed a superb example in a tiny restaurant that prepared the fish to order, fresh as a daisy. So with that in mind, here is my version for a snack or main course dish that is delicious and very easy to make and serve, along with a little sweet and sour dipping sauce.
- 4 large raw freshwater prawns, peeled
- 300 g pork fillet, (1 small) without fat or silver sinew
- 1 tsp very finely chopped fresh red chilli
- 2 tsp Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc cham)
- 2 tsp shrimp paste, heaped (optional)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc cham)
- 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 tbsp palm sugar or caster sugar
- 1 carrot, peeled
- 4 spring onions
- ½ small cucumber
- 16 rice paper pancakes (spring roll wrappers)
- 1 small bunch fresh Thai basil, or any other basil
- a few fresh mint leaves
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying
For the Filling
- Chop the prawns and also the pork fillet. The finer, the better if you have a mincer you can use here, then great.
- Put the prawn and pork in a bowl, add the chilli, fish sauce, shrimp paste if using garlic and salt and pepper, and really mix well.
- Next, finely slice the vegetables into thin strips. As thin as possible, matchstick-size is about right.
- Put all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and mix well.
- Lightly wet one side of a rice pancake with a pastry brush or your fingers.
- Place a small sausage of the prawn and pork mixture on the rice paper to one side.
- Top with a few carrots, spring onion and cucumber matchsticks, then add a few leaves of each herb.
- Fold the sides of the pancake into the centre and then roll up, making sure that the top lip is wetted again, and seal well. Repeat the process with the remaining rice pancakes.
- Heat 2 to 3 cm of vegetable oil in a wok or deep frying pan to about 175C. Fry the spring rolls in batches of no more than four for about 3-4 minutes, turning once, until crispy and cooked through.
- Serve the spring rolls hot with the dipping sauce.
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