One of my absolute favorite recipes we made at Ho Chi Minh Cooking Class was the spring rolls. While they were not the healthier, fresh spring roll version, they were some of the best spring rolls I have ever had and they were all wrapped up in fresh herbs which (slightly) redeemed them! These take a bit of practice, but are totally worth the effort. The secret to frying them, according to Chef Tan, is to add the spring rolls to hot oil, turn the heat down just a bit and then finish them at high heat for the last minute.
The herbs also boast some health benefits and plenty of antioxidants, essential oils and vitamins and minerals. According to Chef Tan, there are plenty of folk remedies surrounding many of the herbs as well:
- Mustard leaves are good for the skin and for pinkeye. (We used tiny, tender mustard greens)
- Lemon Mint– Helps to clear the nose
- Vietnamese Mint– said to help to prevent pregnancy and used to stop the poison in a snakebite
- Basil- said to have anti-aging properties, and stop diarrhea
Plus, they all have the added benefit of making something delicious taste even better!
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and julienned
- ½ cup Black Mushrooms, minced
- ¼ cup Glass Noodles
- 4 oz Ground Pork
- 3 oz Prawns or Shrimp, minced
- 1 clove Garlic, minced
- 1 Green Onion, julienned
- 4 tsp Fish Sauce
- 2 tsp Oyster Sauce
- 2 tsp Sugar
- ¼ rounded tsp Five Spice Powder (black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise)
- 2 pinches Black Pepper
- Rice Paper (the kind that comes in the freezer)
- Enough oil to fry
- 1 bunch each: Parilla, Peppermint, Lemon Basil, Tender Mustard Greens, Vietnamese Basil, washed.
- Combine carrots, mushrooms, glass noodles, ground pork, minced prawn, garlic, green onion, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar, five spice and black pepper. Mix well to thoroughly combine.
- Working with one spring roll wrapper at a time, add about 2 tsp of filling to a wrapper. Spread the filling along the lower third of the wrapper. Roll up once. Fold the sides in, then continue rolling to the end. Seal with water.
- Continue rolling until all the filling has been used.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. When oil has reached 350F (or, when it bubbles when a drop of water is dropped in), add the spring rolls. Turn the heat down a little until the spring rolls start to brown, then crank the heat up to max for the last minute, remove from oil. This works best on a gas stove, if you have electric, keep the heat at around an even 350F the whole time.
- Serve spring rolls with the dipping sauce and the fresh herbs. Be sure and wrap one of everything around the spring roll before taking a bite- you will be amazed!
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp Kumquat Juice (or, use a juice of 80% lime juice and 20% orange juice)
2 Tbsp Water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh chili, minced
Combine all ingredients and whisk well until sugar has dissolved.