4 years ago, one of my French friend came to Ho Chi Minh City, went on her food adventure, at the same time explore the culture. So that, before leaving, she said to me, “I love everything about the country from the fascinating history to the people, the sights, the sounds and the distinctly Asian smells.” I did not forget asking her if she had found the perfect rice paper rolls, and through her food story, I knew she was not disappointed.
She had gone to almost main regions of Vietnam, tried all local specialties, talked with people she met on her way, captured all moments of sight and time. However, more than all of this, her most important food adventure on this trip was her quest for the perfect rice paper roll. In the name of research and rice paper roll lovers around the world over her sampled hundreds (if not thousands) to find perfection. That might be a slight exaggeration but you get the point and she did find perfection. Every single ingredient in this dish from fresh veggies, dipping sauce, meat and prawn, contents both sweetness, sourness, acridness, and saltiness.
In general, the spring roll-like combination of rice paper, salad, noodles, shrimp and/or pork is rather bland which I take it to mean – super healthy! There’s not a single drop of oil used in this recipe, and everything in it is either boiled or steamed.
All the yumminess lays in the dipping sauce, which is generally a concoction of fish sauce, lime/lemon juice/vinegar, sugar and aromatics like garlic and chili.
Rice paper comes in stiff round sheets which is softened in a shallow dish of warm water and then placed on a clean plate for some rolling action. The filling ingredients are kept simple and fresh. The key is to not over-fill and leave enough space around the sides of the rice paper for folding and rolling.
It can be considered as a family meal or in house party, and absolutely popular in restaurants. Vietnamese serve all ingredients on the table and guests have their own plate to roll for themselves. This is a very rare dish that we eat by hand. But, unlike banh xeo, you don’t ever need to worry your hand will get oily after, because as I said, there’s not a single drop of oil used in this recipe.
– Where did you try it?
– I wish I could remember. Oh my Goodness! I lost my feet when I was on some of the streets.
It was down some alley, off some street, near some park in one of the districts. That’s right, she can’t remember for the whole life what the shop or the street was called or how she would ever find it again. That’s how Vietnam streets lead you to the street food adventure. You find it by accident and lose it the same way.
The only solution is to book a holiday and do your own research!
It will be worth!
Keep in touch! Give me a buzz if you would want to discuss more about the food and recipe.