Crispy Vietnamese prawn and vegetable spring rolls with nuoc cham dipping sauce


Crispy Vietnamese prawn and vegetable spring rolls with nuoc cham dipping sauce

We were treated to some amazing Asian food a few weeks ago when we visited an ex-colleague of mine. He and his wife have their roots in Hong Kong and they have also travelled in Japan a lot, so I think we were served some pretty good stuff by any standards. Oh and she's a trained chef.

One of husbands favourites out of all the goodies we were given that evening were the crispy deep fried Vietnamese prawn and turkey spring rolls. And I think they probably were mine too. I asked my friend for the recipe and he gave me the one they'd loosely followed as well as the recipe for the Japanese gyozas which also were amazing and which I will try at some point.

My sister has also really gotten into Asian food and it's been all bamboo steamers, katsucurry and chopsticks for quite a while with her. Only yesterday she WhatsApped me a picture of a gyoza miso soup she'd made for lunch. She doesn't do it to make me feel inferior. I know because she also shares the details of experiments that go wrong. Like the dumplings even the visiting dog refused to eat. To make it worse the dog was a labrador, I'm not sure I've ever seen a lab refuse anything.

But I decided to start my Asian exploration with the spring rolls as husband really loved them, and it's our special food as well. When we first started going out we'd often finish the night getting those large £1 veggie spring rolls from a little take away near Leicester Square. So I want to surprise him when he comes back with amazing tasty and crispy spring rolls. Although I suspect it won't be a total surprise as I already divulged this to all in Facebook so he will have seen it.

I didn't have any turkey mince so decided to go meatless. Also because of my current obsession with losing some weight I obviously had to modify the recipe. I left out the noodles and just used prawns and a stir fry vegetable mix of carrots, cabbage and edamame beans. I deep-fried half of the batch and oven-baked the other half to see how much difference the deep-frying makes. Sadly it does make a bit of a difference. The oven baked ones were absolutely ok, but just not quite as nice and crunchy and crispy as the deep-fried ones.

But like my bamboo steamer wielding sister said when I proudly sent her the pics, we are not likely to eat these that often, so it doesn't really matter if I deep-fry them when we do.

Crispy Vietnamese prawn and vegetable spring rolls with nuoc cham dipping sauce
My Vietnames spring rolls two ways, the oven baked ones to the left and the deep-fried to the right.
I particularly loved the dipping sauce. I accidentally put in some shallot. I thought it was on the recipe, but it wasn't. But actually it works really well. So feel free to add shallot or leave it out.

This is the original recipe and my friend has substituted the pork with turkey mince and also used spring roll pastry rather than rice paper as did I.

My friend's wife (the chef!) - had commented on the picture I put on Facebook, that my spring rolls "look legit"! Now I know how the MasterChef competitors feel when Marcus Waring likes their sorrel sorbet or pigeon bonbons.

Vietnamese prawn and vegetable spring rolls with nuac cham dipping sauce

(makes about 10 medium sized spring rolls)

10 sheets of spring roll pastry
200 grams of uncooked prawns, deveined and finely chopped
1 cup of stir fry vegetables (cabbage, carrot etc), cut into thin strips
1 egg
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp sugar

Nuoc Cham dipping sauce

1/2 shallot, finely chopped
3 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 - 1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small grated clove of garlic
2 tsp sugar

Mix the chopped prawns and vegetables in a bowl, add in the egg, fish sauce, shallot, sugar, salt and pepper and mix well.

Take one sheet of spring roll pastry and add filling to the bottom of the sheet forming it into an even rectangular shape (there are great videos to show if you're not sure how to do this). Fold the sheet over the filling and fold in the sides neatly, roll all the way up. Brush the end with a tiny around of water to  seal the roll.

Keep both the stack of pastry sheets as well as ready spring rolls covered until you've done all. Otherwise they may dry.

To bake in the oven brush the spring rolls with vegetable oil on both sides and place on a wire rack in a 220 C oven. Turn a few times while baking. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crisp and brown on both sides.

To deep-fry, place 2 cm of vegetable oil in a sauce pan. Heat until small bubbles form when you place a handle of a wooden spoon in the oil. Place the rolls in the oil, don't overcrowd the pan. Once they are a nice colour on the bottom turn them around and cook on the other side. This should only take about 5 minutes. Take the rolls out and place on paper towels to soak some of the oil.

For the nuoc cham mix all the ingredients together, and that's it - you're done.

Serve the spring rolls with lettuce and the nuoc cham.

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