Celiac.com 05/23/2013 - Mention fresh spring rolls to any number of people who've enjoyed the pleasures of Vietnamese cuisine, and you'll likely hear words of joyful praise in reply.

Photo: CC--pelicanThe fresh spring roll possesses a certain pull over those who love them, and rarely fail to make an appearance when I'm doing the ordering.

Some like to eat them with peanut sauce, but I prefer them with this very simple dipping sauce of vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

This recipe makes 4 spring rolls, and yields 8 pieces, enough for 4-6 people as an appetizer. Scale as needed. Also, add thin slices of cooked meat, or substitute for shrimp as desired.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (get a brand that's gluten-free, just: Water, Anchovy, salt and sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • ⅓ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 ounces rice vermicelli
  • 1-2 ounces pork or beef, cooked and thinly sliced (optional)
  • 8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
  • 4 rice wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)
  • 3 lettuce leaves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped Thai basil

Directions:
First, make the dipping sauce. In a small glass, wood or plastic bowl, gently stir or whisk vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Soak rice vermicelli in a bowl of room temperature water for 1 hour.

Cook shrimp in boiling water until curled and pink, about 1 minute. Remove the shrimp and drain. Keep water to cook the vermicelli later.

Slice each shrimp in half lengthwise.

Transfer rice vermicelli noodles to the pot of boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove and drain in a colander.

Immediately rinse the vermicelli under cold water, and stir make sure the noodles separate.

To make the rolls, dip 1 rice wrapper in a large bowl of room temperature water for a few seconds to soften.

Place wrapper on a flat work surface. A cutting board or large plate will work well.

Place 4 shrimp halves lengthwise down the middle of the wrapper, followed by ¼ of the chopped lettuce, ½ ounce of soft, well-drained vermicelli, and ¼ each of the mint, cilantro, and Thai basil.

Fold right and left edges of the wrapper over the ends of the filling and roll up the spring roll like a thin burrito.

Repeat with remaining wrappers and ingredients. Cut each roll in half and serve with dipping sauce.

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