There is the most fantastic Vietnamese restaurant close to our flat called Mien Tay that we seem to frequent a little too regularly. But since AA Gill thinks it may be the best Vietnamese restaurant in London I’ve decided it would be rude not to given it’s so close by.
One of my favourite things on the menu at Mien Tay are the fresh rolls with shrimp. Delectable little parcels filled with prawns, noodles, cucumber and herbs with a sublime peanutty dipping sauce on the side.
Unfortunately if you don’t reserve a table at said restaurant you end up joining the huge queue outside. So instead of queuing to get my regular fresh roll hit, I decided to roll my own – how hard could it be?
It’s easy to see what ingredients make up the rolls. It was the dipping sauce that proved a little trickier. But, through trial and error and recipe amalgamation I came up with a sauce. It’s as close as I can get it to Mien Tay’s delicious dip.
I had never encountered rice paper wrappers until attempting this recipe. They come dried so you have to soak them for about 10 seconds until they soften up and become strange, stretchy, sticky things. But fear not if, like me, you stick your finger through and/or tear the first 3. They’re incredibly easy to work with once you get the hang of it and you will soon be producing rolls even Mien Tay would be proud of.
You really must try these – you will be craving them ever after!
Fresh Prawn Rolls
Serves 4 as a starter
Ingredients for the dipping sauce:
5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons water
1 ½ tablespoons hoi sin sauce
2 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons chilli garlic sauce
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small lime, juice
Ingredients for the fresh rolls:
8 spring roll wrappers (about 22cm across) (Blue Dragon make them in the UK)
24 cooked and peeled king prawns (about 170g), halved lengthways along the back
275g fresh rice noodles (vermicelli)
About 15cm of a large cucumber, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
3 spring onions, cut into quarters lengthways and finely chopped
25g coriander, leaves only
25g mint, leaves only
25g thai basil leaves (or normal basil), leaves only
To make the dipping sauce:
Put all of the sauce ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until well mixed. Set aside until needed.
To make the fresh rolls:
1. Before you start, lay all of your ingredients out in a production line for easy access.
2. Pour boiling water into a bowl/deep plate big enough to take the spring roll wrapper then top up with cold water until you can touch it. Submerge a spring roll wrapper in the water, keeping it flat for 10-15 second until it is soft and pliable. Carefully lift out of the water and place it flat onto a chopping board/work surface ready to fill – you need to work relatively quickly now.
3. Put 6 prawn halves, pink side down, in a line across the middle of the wrapper. On top, pile a small handful of rice noodles, followed by 3 or 4 cucumber matchsticks, 3 or 4 mint leaves*, 2 or 3 basil leaves* and a few coriander leaves.
4. Now, take one long side (parallel to the filling) of the wrapper and gently pull it over the filling. Fold over the 2 edges so that the ends are sealed and then roll the parcel up…see the pictures above.
5. Place the finished roll on a plate/baking sheet and cover with cling film while you make the rest. When adding them to the plate/baking sheet make sure you leave gaps between them so they don’t stick together.
6. When ready to eat, cut in half and serve with the dipping sauce.
*Depends on how big your leaves are – you want to have a layer of leave all along your roll.
You can make the dipping sauce a day in advance and keep refrigerated.
The rolls can be kept covered in the fridge for up to 3 hours – cut in half just as you are about to serve them.