Budget Pork Rice Paper Rolls with Hoisin Sauce

A 45 degree view of a wooden plate with 3 budget rice paper rolls and a bowl of hoisin dipping sauce on the side.

Rice paper rolls have got to be one of the best things to come out of Vietnam. My budget version includes pork, noodles, lettuce and cucumber which creates a simple yet delicious rice paper roll. The dipping sauce is an easy hoisin based sauce which tastes fantastic and can be whipped up in minutes. Coming in at $9.57, it just scrapes in under the $10 dollar budget and will make 14 rolls.

Creating this frugal series has made me realise how expensive some of my recipes are. All my recipes to date have been primarily about taste with less thought given to cost. Going back and working out the costs for some of my favourite recipes has been a bit of a reality check. I am coming up with figures that seem far too lavish for a normal family dinner.

A top down view of 5 budget rice paper rolls on a wooden plate with hoisin dipping sauce on the side.

I have only been doing budget meals for a week and it is changing my perspective on food.  The biggest lesson so far is ingredients! Before this, I generally bought the best ingredients I could find since I hated skimping on flavour. But now I am realising that there are some ingredients that simply don’t add enough value to justify the cost. And when your budget is $5 – $10 a meal, there is simply no room for “nice to haves.”

My budget rice paper rolls are based off my traditional Vietnamese pork and prawn and my vegan rice paper roll recipes. These recipes were all a little expensive for budget month, so I basically stripped them back and only kept the ingredients that added the best value. Please follow the links if you are interested in having a look at the original recipes.

The best thing about rice paper rolls, is that it can be made with numerous combinations of ingredients. It is a perfect meal to clean out the fridge! My only recommendation is to always have a protein that is not too dry, something that adds crunch and keep the flavours mild so the sauce can do its magic. If you tick all those boxes, then you can’t go wrong.

My Tips for a Successful Rice Paper Roll

  • I recommend cutting the pork into strips and shredding the lettuce. It will make rolling easier and help divide the ingredients more evenly across all the rolls.
  • I find pork shoulder to be the best value for this dish but you can really substitute any type of meat you want.
  • This dish is great to clear out leftover salad mixes and any other herbs/vegetables in the fridge.
  • These rolls don’t keep well. If you put them in the fridge for too long, the rice paper goes hard. I strongly suggest you make them just before serving, and keep them them in a cool place until you’re ready to eat.
  • If you need to store, the easiest way is to put them in a closed container in the fridge. Make sure each one is separated with baking paper to stop them sticking. The best way is to individually wrap each one in cling wrap and then store in the fridge. A little more fiddly but will yield best results.
  • To keep the rolls from going soggy too quickly, make sure your ingredients are dry when assembling the rolls. E.g. dry the lettuce with paper towels or in a salad spinner before shredding.
  • Don’t stack the rolls on top of each other as they will stick together. Either spread them out leaving gaps in between, or use strips of baking paper/go-between to stop them touching each other.
  • If you have budget to spare, great additions to my budget rolls would be coriander / cilantro, Thai basil, chives, bean sprouts or crushed peanuts. You can also serve the rolls with sriracha or fresh chillies which people can add into their sauce if they want a kick.

A close up view of 4 bowls filled with pork, lettuce, cucumber and rice noodles.

My Tips for Rolling

  • I recommend getting rice paper from Asian groceries. I use the lotus flower brand and find the quality is a lot better then ones from mainstream grocers. However, the rice paper in the pictures are from mainstream grocers! So, don’t be disheartened if you can’t get to an Asian grocery.
  • Dunking the rice paper into the water should only take a few seconds. When you pull the rice paper out, let the excess water run off back into the bowl. The rice paper itself should still hold its shape easily. If it comes out looking like a wet rag… start again!
  • Using warm water works best for softening rice paper. Don’t use hot or the rice paper will come out limp after dunking. Using cold water will take a little longer to soften.
  • The best surface to roll on is cling wrap! The rice paper can’t stick to the cling wrap as well and makes it way easier to roll. This will help to make your rolls tighter and neater. So lay a sheet of cling wrap on  your bench top and roll away! Do not take any notice of my progress shots below…lol.
  • Less is more. If you are having trouble with tearing or ugly looking rolls, then put less in. It is so much easier to work with less filling until you get into rhythm.
  • Remember. Rolling is not easy!!! But with a little practice and patience, you will get the hang of it. I promise.

Recipe Costings

This graph shows how much this recipe will cost if you had to go out and buy everything on the ingredients list (“Shop Price”), as well as the value of ingredients actually used in the recipe (“Recipe Cost”).

With the “Shop Price”, we’re assuming you’re buying the smallest possible quantity to make this recipe. Obviously if you’re buying things in larger quantities the price will be higher, but you’re also more likely to be paying less per unit. We haven’t bothered with things like salt and pepper as the cost would be negligible.

All prices are in Australian dollars and are based off what was published on Coles Online or Woolworths Online as at time of writing.

Ingredient Quantity Bought

Shop Price

Recipe Needs Recipe Cost
Pork Shoulder

1.5 kg at $9 / kg

$12.00

450 gm

$4.05

Rice Vermicelli

250 gm packet (4 portions)

$1.95

125 gm (2 portions)

$0.97

Lettuce

1 head (1 kg)

$3.50

200 gm

$0.70

Cucumber

1 (147 gm) at $5.90 / kg

$0.87

1

$0.87

Hoisin Sauce

400 gm jar

$3.50

200 gm

$1.75

Cornstarch

300 gm packet

$1.50

1 tsp

$0.01

Rice Paper (22 cm)

250 gm packet (28 sheets)

$2.45

125 gm (14 sheets)

$1.22

Total

 

$25.77

 

$9.57

A close up of a budget rice paper roll that has been cut in half and dipped in hoisin sauce.

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Budget Rice Paper Rolls

Budget Pork Rice Paper Rolls

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Vietnamese
Keyword Budget Rice Paper Rolls
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 14 Rolls
Author Scruff

Ingredients

  • 450 gm pork shoulder, cut into small strips
  • 125 gm rice vermicelli noodles (2 square portions)
  • 200 gm lettuce, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, cut into strips
  • 250 gm rice paper (14 sheets)

Hoisin Dipping Sauce

  • 5 tbsp hoisin
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp cold water

Instructions

  1. Boil a pot of water and cook the pork shoulder for roughly 12 - 15 minutes or until cooked. Once done, chop into small thin strips and then transfer to a bowl. (Note 1)

  2. Cook the vermicelli noodles as directed on the packet. Once done, transfer the noodles to a bowl. 

  3. Cut all your vegetables and have everything prepped ready for assembly.

  4. Dip the rice paper in a bowl of warm water and make the rolls. (Refer to the pictures above for help)

  5. In a small pot on medium heat, add the hoisin and boiling water. Stir until combined.

  6. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and cold water until completely combined. Add cornstarch mixture to the sauce and stir until thickened. (Note 2)

  7. Serve the rice paper rolls with the dipping sauce.

Recipe Notes

  1. Cut the pork into smaller chunks of equal size before boiling to speed up the cooking process. 
  2. If you like your sauce thick, then add more cornstarch mixture. Never add cornstarch to the sauce without mixing it with cold water first. 
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