How to Make Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls in under 20 minutes

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The número uno request I get from everybody for potlucks, picnics, dinner parties, etc. is spring rolls. Spring rolls make my life pretty easy; they take about 20 minutes to make from start to finish, including the peanut dipping sauce (click link for recipe!). They’re not complicated at all. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some horrifying things done to spring rolls.

Click here for the recipe for ‘Vietnamese Spring Spring Rolls’

I remember watching an episode of Chopped in which the contestant soaked the rice paper in water until it looked like a soaked napkin, and then he tried to roll it up with some ingredients. It was a scary failure. He ran out of time, so he proceeded to throw his ingredients on the plate alongside the soggy rice paper. The judges said it looked like a used, wet napkin. Truth be told, not even Bounty paper towels could’ve cleaned up that mess.

Click here for the step-by-step directions for ‘Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls’

I think once you start making your own spring rolls, you’ll find it difficult to ever buy them again from grocery stores or restaurants. Here are the secrets to making beautiful Vietnamese spring rolls:

Below are step-by-step photos of how to perfect the popular Vietnamese spring roll. Don’t forget you need to buy rice paper and thin rice vermicelli noodles, aka rice noodles or rice sticks. Please don’t buy cellophane noodles. That’s totally different.

I’ll shut up now. Here’s what you need!

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Rice noodles, rice paper, lettuce, mint, and shrimp. The usual. I’m using thawed shrimp that has not been deveined, so let me show you what you gotta do:

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Get a toothpick and stab the thing towards the tail end. Go all the way through.

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My mama taught me this sweet trick. This is sort of like threading or sewing. “Thread” out the vein of the shrimp and discard. You could use any kind of frozen shrimp you like, but if your frozen shrimp is not deveined as mine were, you’re going to have to do this. Try to cook shrimp with the shell still on(to maintain its shape) because it’s just the way spring rolls are traditionally made.

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Obsessively wash your hands with soapy water(don’t forget the cutting board). Then cook the shrimp in lightly boiling water for 2 minutes, just until they are pink, opaque, and fully cooked through.

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Cool them down with some cold water.

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Peel immediately and discard the shells.

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Now halve your shrimp. Please don’t skip this step. We don’t want too much shrimp in one spring roll, and cutting them in half makes sure you don’t overstuff your rolls!

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How nice! No veins. Totally cooked and totally plump. You could stop now if you enjoy eating shrimp by itself. But I digress… let’s continue.

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Throw some dried rice noodles in a pot of boiling water.

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Follow your package cooking directions. It usually takes 5 minutes for the noodles to finish cooking. We’re not looking for al dente here. They need to be totally cooked.

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Now rinse with cold water until the water draining underneath your colander runs clear. You want all the starch out.

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This is what it looks like after a cold water rinse. It doesn’t stick together, and that’s no bueno. So…

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…I need you to rinse the noodles with hot, steaming tap water until all the noodles are steaming hot. Then you let the noodles rest and continue draining for 5 minutes and…

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Ta-da! After 5 minutes, the noodles actually stick together. This is perfect for spring rolls.

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Now wet some rice paper wrappers… Please don’t over wet them. We just want to coat it in water just until the entire thing is wet.

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Now lay it flat on your plate. This is where we roll things and things get fun.

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After one minute, the rice paper is totally pliable. Now load it up with your ingredients.

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I’m making shrimp shrimp rolls, so place your halved shrimp, cut side UP, on the end furthest from you. We place them cut side up so that the pretty side of the shrimp will be showing on the outside of the spring roll.

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Now lay your sturdy lettuce leaf on the spring roll.

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Lay on some noodles. Remember. No more than 1/3 cup of noodles, please. Also, tear up some fresh mint leaves while you’re at it. Here’s where you add shredded carrots, cucumbers, tofu, etc. if you want.

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Now fold in the two sides of the roll…

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And push down as you roll away from you. Pack the ingredients tight as you roll. This can be tricky, but you’ll get used to it. Obviously, use both hands to roll. I wonder why only one of my hands is in this photo? Is it because: a) I’m eating a spring roll with my right hand, or b) I’m holding my camera, or c) I’m just that good I can do this one-handed, or d) I’m FaceTiming with my dog? Free spring rolls for one whole year for the first person to answer correctly!

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Keep on rollin’!

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et, voilà. That’s a beauty. Serve it right up with plenty of peanut dipping sauce.

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