The first dinner party Steph and I ever hosted was a rice paper roll night! I remember Steph being very relaxed while I was the complete opposite. It was the first time we had ever done something like this, so I was naturally a train wreck. Rather than make the rolls ourselves, we chose to lay out all the prepared ingredients then encouraged everyone to make their own rolls with of course a demo from yours truly. And…. it was a success! Our friends were smashing roll after roll. In between rolls people would look around and laugh at all the failed attempts at a simple roll. By the end of it, many belts had to be loosened and recently acquired food babies had to be nursed away!
Ever since that day this dish has become my “go to” meal for parties and pot luck dinners. It is a very versatile dish. It can be tailored for carnivores, omnivores and vegans. It can also be served as finger food, a starter or a main. I strongly recommend this to anyone new to hosting dinners, since absolutely everything can be prepared beforehand. This creates a stress-free environment where you can enjoy the company of your guests without having to worry about the cooking.
Before I created this post I googled rice paper rolls for some inspiration and was astonished to see the number of variations people had created. The fastest growing trend that was clearly popular with the foodies was rainbow rolls. These rolls were filled with colourful raw vegetables, arranged in a way to look like a piece of artwork. Admittedly, I was impressed by the visual aspect of it all but was a bit sceptical of the taste.
Hence, this is partly the reason I am putting my rice paper roll recipe up on the blog. My rolls are not overly colourful, nor are they a work of art. But I can assure you they will deliver on taste. My recipe consists of pork, prawn, rice noodles and a lot of veg. I generally serve this dish with the following sauces:
- Hoisin dipping sauce (favourite and included in this recipe)
- Spicy peanut sauce (great alternative and included in the vegan rice paper roll recipe)
- Nuoc mam cham (traditional)
But in all honesty, rice paper rolls are one of those foods where you make it however you like it. I personally love a lot of rice noodles in mine which I get ridiculed for since it is the cheapest ingredient out of the lot! So, why don’t you give it a go and find out what makes your ultimate rice paper roll.
Traditional Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls - Goi Cuon
Fresh rice paper rolls are a delicious way to get more vegetables into your diet.
- 1.5 L of boiling water
- 400 - 500 gm of pork belly rashers (substitute with leaner cuts of pork or chicken breast for healthier alternatives)
- 20 - 25 cooked prawns of your choice, halved
- 250 gm of dried dongguan rice vermicelli
- 1 head of butter lettuce (or your choice)
- 1 continental cucumber, cut into strips
- 1 bunch of Thai basil
- 1 bunch of bunch of coriander
- 1 packet of rice paper (20+)
- 1 packet of bean sprouts
- 1 bunch of garlic chives
- 1 bunch of mint
- 2 carrots, cut into strips
- 2 mangoes, cut into strips
- 1 can of chopped pineapple
Hoisin Dipping Sauce (Personal Favourite)
- 2 cups of reserved pork stock (water used to cook pork or just tap water for vegetarian option)
- 1 cup of hoisin sauce
- 1/2 tsp of palm vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml of water
- 3 tsp of cornstarch
Preparing the Filling
Wash and prep the vegetables and herbs.
Add plenty of water to a large pot and bring it to the boil.
Rinse the pork rashers under a tap and add it to the pot of boiling water. Allow to cook for 18 - 20 mins on medium heat.
While the pork is cooking, peel and devein the cooked prawns. Then cut each prawn in half length ways with a sharp knife. (Note 1)
After 18 - 20 mins, take the pork out and leave the stock in the pot. Cut one pork rasher in half to check if its done then set aside to rest and cool.
In a new pot, boil plenty of water and cook the rice vermicelli noodles as directed by the packaging. Once cooked, drain and leave aside to cool. Do not rinse the noodles.
Once the pork is cool enough to handle, cut into thin slices. Add the pork slices back into the reserve pork stock on a low setting. This will keep the meat warm and moist before serving.
Your Choice of Dipping Sauce
Pour 2 cups of the pork stock through a strainer and into pot on medium - low heat.
Add the hoisin and vinegar. Stir through until completely dissolved.
In a small bowl combine the water and cornstarch. Add the cornstarch mixture to the sauce pot and continue to stir until the sauce starts boiling.
Check the sauce for taste and consistency. If it needs more flavour, then add more hoisin. If it needs to be thicker, add more cornstarch mixed with water. If its too thick, then add more water.
Take off the heat and set aside.
Assembly (See also slideshow above)
In large bowls add half cold water and half boiling water. Soften the rice paper by submerging it for a few seconds in the water. (Note 2)
Place the noodles towards the bottom of the rice paper.
Top with the meat. vegetables and herbs.
Roll the rice paper from the bottom and upwards.
Once you've rolled over the filling, fold in the sides then continue rolling all the way to the top.
- My tip for cutting prawns in half is to have the tail pointing away from the knife and positioned towards your body. Pinch the the two ends of the prawn together and begin cutting the prawn through the backside. Be careful of your fingers as the knife cuts through the tail. Try to use a freshly sharpened medium sized kitchen knife and avoid using any knife with a serrated edge.
- Do not over saturate the rice paper. It will cause the rice paper to wilt too much and lose its elasticity. The rice paper will continue to soften once you take it out of the water.
- If you decide to roll the rice paper rolls for your guests or for a potluck dinner, then use baking paper as the divider. It is very important that you do not let them touch each other or you may find you have created the world's largest rice paper roll.
- If you want to keep costs down, then omit the prawns and replace with more pork or chicken. This will significantly reduce the overall cost of this dish.