Vietnamese spring roll recipe for your kitchen
If you were to scour the internet for a spring roll recipe, you’d notice that there are lots of them on various kinds of food websites. However why does specialised food differ than home food lies in the difference of techniques. Few simple do’s and don’ts will enable you to make that great recipe you have always wondered but never got it right
As for the spring roll recipe is concerned, go for one that suits you best, like I said we will focus on the execution (that most chef won’t tell) instead of the recipe that most chef will glad share 😉
Here is a reasonably good spring roll recipe for your reference feel free to use any other as you wish to.
Rule # 1 Seasoning:
A Vietnamese spring roll consists of a primarily seasoning that’s derived out of dried fish.. (fish sauce), so if you don’t like strong flavour or a vegetarian, do not attempt this to make it by killing the primary ingredient already. Soya maybe the closest seasoning but they are made differently exactly for the purpose it serves, so while guest request me to make a vegetarian meal for any catering requirement in Delhi Mumbai or Goa, I would dissuade them to some alternative cold dish. Seasoning is the first form of contact after sight and smell, compromise or alterations disturbs our own expectations (Manav did not make the same rolls we ate at that restaurant, they were bursting with flavours) Flavouring is driven by seasoning.. It is that important
If you are a caterer and face the challenge of modifying the spring roll recipe into vegetarian, especially in places like Delhi. Vietnamese Spring rolls is a suggestion you should take for your own reputation. It is always wise to refuse such request for you own good
Rule #2 Balance of flavour:
The reason the world loves Chinese or south east asian or pan Asian cuisine is that they stick to the right balance of flavours opposed to European where you see a rosemary or thyme backing the meat or vegetable. Asia focuses on the seasoning, the sweetness (palm sugar or dates or sugar)/the sour notes and bitter as well (ginger/ galangal) seasoning thru aromatic salts, fish sauce soya sour notes thru rice or synthetic vinegar or rice wine vinegar, such variations create the dynamic tastes and once we alter the vinegar to a cheap synthetic instead of rice wine or a mirin, we have ruined it.
The rule of thumb for Thai food primarily is creating the balance of all the 5 tasting notes our brains decipher. Salt, sweet, sour, bitter and heat. Now imagine this as some sort of a setting that’s either heightened or minimised this will give you the product you desired. And demystify the fact that the balance is what can make or break it.
Now coming back to the spring roll recipe, the balance is primarily of fish sauce, sugar, lime. Once you get a good punch of all flavours you have managed the most important task, the season that will wrap all the raw and fresh produce e.g. carrots, cucumbers, prawns, cabbages and yes, replacing an Indian cabbage to Chinese cabbage will mater much, but you will still pass off, because you got the seasoning right
Rule # 3 Textures:
To arrive at the right textures for this or any other spring roll recipe, one needs the freshest of ingredients from vegetables to sea food, then is the secret that most don’t share. Pay close attention: The texture of a carrot is not only governed by its inherent characteristics but also to a large extent by how it’s cut. Carrots and your canines crushing it and the time of the crush to the break gaps in between each strands if the thinly sliced carrots determines the texture. In short thinly slicing and fine juliennes is what determined the freshness and the texture, as fat as cucumbers they are cut into long thicker strips of 10mm thickness and carrots to a fine 1mm long strands. It just doesn’t end here. These vegetables need to be in absolutely cold water for about 10-15 minutes before you have a plan to serve them, which means, not drenching them in iced water few hours in advance, yes they can be cut and stored in a fridge without the water 2-3 hrs in advance, however sooner you cut and cold bath your vegetables it’s better. Similarly for the prawns, one needs to give it a good Blanche before its served.. Its a great idea to invest in a mandolin, to get the right julienne without much knife skills. A lot depends on a perfect slice, your colour formations will be a lot more dramatic due to this. My personal favorite is an inexpensive Behringer (I hope I spelt it correctly)
Rolling it right
Now that you have the seasoning texture and balance in place we need to wrap this beautiful yin yan work of balance into the cold rice paper wraps.
Once again moisturise/water the wraps as per instructions on packaging place the warps on a moist area and wrap them season them finally and serve with spring rolls sauce you’re good to go!
Wrapping may take a while and wrapping depends on firmly rolling the first round by ensuring the stuffing is firmly trapped in the paper before you roll it, I presume by your third roll you’ll ace the art.
To sum it up
A spring roll has myriad flavours of crunch, mild pungency of chillies xfreshness of basil and coriander that does not overpower the fish sauce which is fairly neutralised by lime and sweetness. Once you register these rules you can master the art of how to make the right Vietnamese spring rolls or just enjoy the right ones.
Remember Textures Balance Freshness and the dimensions of your cuts deciphers happiness and the key to a great cold spring roll
Manav Paul –
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