With summer on its way, I’m sure many are thinking about how to shape up! I have the perfect solution for you: Vietnamese spring rolls! I scarf these down at my favorite Vietnamese Pho restaurant. I thought I should learn how to make them. These rolls are so satisfying for the hot summer weather because of the cooling cucumber, mint, and jicama combo packed in. You can also make them a day or two in advance, along with the sauce and they make the perfect healthy snack to munch on for lunch or before dinner. Crunchy, fresh, and light for the summer, you can’t go wrong. If you want, you can substitute chicken, shrimp, or steak for the tofu, or just add more veggies.
What is jicama?
Pronounced [HEE-ka-ma] A large, bulbous root vegetable also called Mexican potato or Mexican turnip because of its similar starch content to that of a potato. It’s a sweet and crunchy vegetable often used in salads or slaws and often paired with cilantro, chile, lime, and cucumber. It is the perfect vegetable to eat in the summer because it will hydrate and cool you, as well as provide you with a good source of fiber. To prepare the root, do not use a peeler, the skin is too tough, instead, cut the skin away with a knife.
I have to give a special thanks to friend and chef of 9021Pho, Kimmy Tang, who teaches cooking classes and taught me how to make these delicious Vietnamese rolls. Thanks!
- 10 rice paper wrappers*
- 1 package medium- firm tofu, or 8 oz cooked shrimp
- 1/2 cup jicama, cut in matchsticks
- 1/2 cup carrots, cut in matchsticks
- 1/2 cup cucumber, cut in matchsticks
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch Thai basil (or other variety)
- Lettuce leaves (optional)
*Find these in the ethnic aisle of your grocery store, local Asian shop, or natural foods store.
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice or vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce or Sirachia
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped peanuts or cashews, unsalted (optional)
1. Make the sauce first by adding all the ingredients except the nuts into a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar by heating slightly. Then, take off heat and set aside.
2. Making the spring rolls. Chop up all the vegetables and set aside. Then, chop the tofu in 1/4-1/2″ inch rectangles and set aside.
|Cut away skin on the jicama|
|Cut into matchsticks|
3. In a large baking pan, pour a good amount of warm to hot water. Place one sheet of rice paper in for 10-30 seconds or until soft enough to bend. Then, place the rice paper sheet on a cutting board and stretch out as well as you can.
|Getting ready for wrapping|
|Soak, then stretch out, gently|
4. Place 2-3 basil leaves in the center and lettuce leaves (optional), then 3-4 tofu pieces, then a couple matchsticks each of carrot, jicama, and cucumber, then 2-3 mint leaves on top. Keep 1-2 inches from the sides, for folding.
|Or use shrimp, if you like|
5. Fold like a burrito, as tightly as you can, but delicately. The first ones may not be perfect, but you will get better!
|Keep it tight|
Serve chilled with the sauce on the side. When ready to serve place the nuts in the sauce for dipping.