It’s my civic duty to share these vietnamese-style rolls since they’re one of the most popular things I make these days. I stuff them with a pile of crunchy vegetables and tofu and dip them in a spicy peanut sauce.
I made these when my son was visiting and he ate about a dozen of them. I’m not exaggerating. Luckily I had sliced a lot of vegetables before hand and I just kept making more rolls as he and his girlfriend sat at the kitchen island, chatting with me and polishing them off.
These rolls are incredibly easy to make, but you’ll need some time to slice the vegetables. I like to use things with a lot of crunch and colour: carrots, red peppers, crispy romaine lettuce or iceberg lettuce. (To keep vegetables extra crisp, when I get them home from the store, I rinse them, wrap them in damp paper towels and keep them in Zip-Loc bags in the fridge.)
The rice paper I use comes from Safeway and luckily the cashier gave me an important tip: follow the instructions on the package! The package says dip the sheet of rice paper in water for 5 seconds and that’s all it takes. The paper becomes pliable quickly. If you’re like me you’ll think, ‘there’s no way this will work….I’m going to leave it in the water for at least 30 seconds’…but five seconds is perfect. It will seem way too firm when you start to arrange the vegetables, but it will roll up nicely and the texture will be exactly right.
One more tip: it helps if the rolling surface is slightly moist. When I use the counter it gets a little too wet, but my bamboo cutting board seems to be just right.
Place a small amount of vegetables and tofu slices on the lower half of the rice paper. Tightly fold up the bottom half, then the sides and roll it up snugly. If you arrange the colourful vegetables to be on the top and bottom of the filling, they’ll show through the paper and the rolls will be prettier. Fresh herbs like chopped basil, mint and cilantro are lovely tucked into the rolls. (My people tend to pick out the herbs while making frowny faces, so I don’t bother except for the rolls *I* plan to eat. Philistines.)
As I roll these I place them on damp paper towels, not touching, so they don’t stick together. I use more damp paper towels between layers if I’m stacking them up. They are best eaten the same day.
- One batch of Tofu for Non-Believers, sliced into thin pieces.
- Rice Paper
- 1 red pepper (230 g)
- 4 large leaves of lettuce (90 g)
- 4 mini cucumbers (175 g)
- 4 carrots (175 g)
- Fresh mint, cilantro and/or basil, optional.
- Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
- ½ cup (127 g, 4.5 ounces) natural peanut butter
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) hoisin sauce
- 3 teaspoons (15 ml) soy sauce or tamari
- 3 teaspoons (15 ml) sriracha hot sauce or sambal oelek
- ½ teaspoon (3 ml) toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup (50 ml) water, or more
- Prepare all the vegetables and tofu in similar thin slices. Thinly slice the herbs if you're using them.
- Dip the rice paper into water, following the instructions on the package.
- Arrange a small amount of vegetables and sliced tofu on the lower half of the rice paper.
- Tightly fold the bottom half of the rice paper over the filling.
- Fold in the sides and roll it up tightly.
- Place the roll on damp paper towels. Don't let them touch or they will stick together.
- For the sauce: Stir together all the ingredients except the water. Add the water bit by bit. (it's easiest to mix, if you go slowly.) Add more water if you'd like to make a thinner dipping sauce.
- You can refrigerate them, but bring them to room temperature before eating.They are best eaten the same day.
I like these best with natural peanut butter (no sugar added) but if all you have is the regular stuff I'd use it and reduce the hoisin sauce since it's also sweet.
My first few attempts were homely, so don't despair if yours look awkward. Each one gets a little prettier.
The peanut sauce recipe is based on this one from Chow, minus the added sugar, with extra lime juice.