Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)

Reid's parents were in Austin last week for work.  We met them up at Frank's hot dogs the first night they were in town.  Frank's is an artisinal hot dog restaurant in downtown Austin.  It was our first time there; I'd heard about it through friends and my old vet school counselor (thanks, Dr. Posey!).  It was really good.  They actually had currywurst on the menu! Currywurst is "a fast food dish of German origin consisting of steamed, then fried pork sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry ketchup, regularly consisting of ketchup or tomato paste blended with generous amount of curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup-based sauce seasoned with curry and other spices" (thanks, Wikipedia!).  I'd had it almost any chance I could when I was studying abroad one summer in Germany during vet school and when I came back to the States, was saddened to never find it on any 'German" (aka Bavarian) restaurant menus in Texas.  Anyway, they had it so I had to order it.  It came with toast instead of french fries, which was a little disappointing, but it was otherwise pretty good.  Anyway, I offered to cook dinner the next night and made Bun Thit Nuong Cha Gio (Vietnamese Grilled BBQ Pork and Eggrolls over Vermicelli Noodles) and Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls).  It was really great to be able to cook for my new in-laws!

Goi Cuon, Vietnamese Spring Rolls, can have basically any stuffing.  Traditionally, there is either pork or shrimp as the protein component. There is another similar dish called Bo Bia that has lap xuong (Chinese sausage) and scrambled egg that my mom will often make a vegetarian versions of when my dad's craving some.  Anyway, Goi Cuon, is pretty simple in the ingredients and assembly, but somehow some anglosized restaurants ALWAYS MESS IT UP!  There was one restaurant in College Station that would roll them so thick they were like burritos.  These should be easily handled rolls.  Also, I've had some people ask me what the difference between a spring roll and an egg roll is.  I think it's a little different for Chinese terminology, but for Vietnamese, spring rolls have rice paper wrappers and are not fried.  Eggrollls are have wonton-like wrappers and are fried (aka Cha Gio).  Ok, off my soap box and on to my recipe:

Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls)
Makes 4

4 sheets rice paper (banh trang)
1/4 medium cucumber, cut in long wedges
1/4 c. shredded carrots
4 pieces red leaf lettuce
handful of fresh mint leaves
handful of fresh thai basil*
1/4 lb. boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package vermicelli noodles (bun tuoi dac biet), cooked according to directions
2 tbs. crushed dry roasted peanuts**

Dip one sheet of rice paper into a large, shallow bowl of warm water until just dampened
Lay rice paper onto a plate
Layer lettuce, cucumbers, vermicelli noodles, carrots, herbs, peanuts and shrimp onto bottom 1/4 to half of the rice paper
Roll each side of rice paper over, then tightly roll from bottom to top, being careful not to tear the rice paper.
Serve immediately with dipping sauce

Hoisin Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 tbs. hoisin sauce
1 tbs. smooth peanut butter
1/4 tsp. water
Mix well in a small ramikan and sprinkle some crushed peanuts over the top.

*I don't use traditional herbs, I use what is growing in my herb garden
** exclude if you are allergic to peanuts, like me!
Since I can't eat the peanut dipping sauce, I just dip into a little hoisin sauce or nuoc mam (fish sauce)

Banh Trang

a little lumpy looking one
Hoisin sauce for me!

So fresh and so cl-clean!


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