Authentic Fresh Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls + Spicy Ginger Dipping Sauce
I couldn't be more excited to be sharing this recipe with you all today because this fresh spring rolls recipe is inspired by one of my favorite countries and cultures. Like I mentioned, I am going to be sharing both seasonal and "food culture" focused recipes moving forward, and I really hope you love the themes I have decided to go with this year as much as I do.
Since I focus so much on sustainability here at The Well Essentials, and much less on trendy diets, low-calorie this/that, weight-loss, etc. I figured that our recipes should really reflect the sustainable healthy living mission behind The Well Essentials. I also wanted to share with you all more of my love for this big beautiful world we get to call home, and the many places, cultures, and foods I have been able to experience throughout my travels.
I believe so strongly that a sustainably healthy life needs to involve a healthy food culture, and I honestly couldn't think of a better way to talk about food culture with you all than by sharing some of my favorite recipes from our travels around the world.
And what better way to start off this series than with a recipe from one of my favorite countries in the whole world: Vietnam
My husband and I like to joke that if it wasn't for his love for Vietnam we would have never met...and it's actually true. When my husband was in college he studied abroad with my best friend from high-school in Vietnam. They became really good friends, and that next year after they graduated he came to Boston for a little "Vietnam Study Abroad" reunion and that is when we met. The rest really is history, and 25 countries later our love for exploring the world together is one of the most special parts of our relationship.
On our honeymoon, we went back to Vietnam to travel throughout Southeast Asia and it was so fun to see where Mike had spent six-months, and get to experience this amazing, beautiful, special country with my husband.
I had heard so much about Vietnam through my best-friend and Mike that I felt like I knew the country before getting there. I had heard story after story, but nothing would compare to the moment I stepped out of the taxi and into the busy streets of Hanoi for the first time.
Hanoi was even busier than I had imagined in my mind, and when Mike told me to literally walk into oncoming traffic when crossing the street, even this traveler felt a little outside my comfort zone. But, trusting that he knew what he was talking about, I took his advice and walked confidently across the street, never stopping, never looking back, as moped after moped wizzed around me.
This was it, we were in Vietnam.
While in Hanoi I drank as many lemongrass iced teas as I could get my hands on, ate seafood pho for dinner almost every night, and tried to take in as much of the local culture, and especially the food culture as possible.
I loved how vibrant and fresh the meals tasted, yet how simple the ingredients were that made them up. Most meals were filled with some kind of rice or noodle, fresh herbs, spices, local vegetables, and some kind of protein.
This is the way I love to cook, so I was basically in heaven. Most days for lunch I would get the fresh fish or shrimp spring rolls, and a small soup, and I was always blown away by how simple, yet so unbelievably flavorful the spring rolls were. I knew that when we got home to USA I would absolutely be working on perfecting a recipe of my own, and started taking notes of the various ingredients in the different spring roll varieties we would try.
After watching countless women in the little hole-in-the-wall restaurants, or on the street making spring rolls I felt like I finally had a good grasp on how this traditional Vietnamese dish was made. That was until I came home to the United States and tried rolling my first spring roll for myself. The result was not quite as pretty as what I had envisioned in my mind.
Spring rolls take a little practice to really get used to, but please do not be discouraged if yours don't turn out the very first time, they will get better. And I am hoping that between my directions below and your own stubbornness you will be able to figure it out, and will be making beautiful spring rolls of your own in no time.
The key to rolling spring rolls really is to work fast to keep the rice paper from sticking too much to the surface you are rolling them on. My best advice is to take a few different bowls and place all of your finely chopped ingredients into each bowl so that they are readily available, and organized for when you are assembling your spring rolls.
Now let's get on to this recipe!
These Fresh Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls are traditionally inspired by Vietnamese street food in northern Vietnam. They highlight the high-quality fresh vegetables, and herbs, and allow the ingredients to speak for themselves. Served alongside a spicy ginger dipping sauce these spring rolls make for a delicious lunch, or a healthy appetizer before dinner.
Authentic Fresh Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls + Spicy Ginger Dipping Sauce (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)
makes ~ 20 spring rolls, serves 4
20 Rice Papers
3/4 lbs WIld Gulf Shrimp
2 cups Lettuce
2 cups Purple Cabbage
1/4 cup Mint
1/4 cup Cilantro
20 Basil Leaves
1 cup Vermicelli Noodles
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
3 tablespoons Fish Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 tablespoon Crushed Ginger
Heat a frying pan over medium heat, spray lightly with coconut oil, and add your de-veined/shelled shrimp to the pan.
Allow shrimp to cook for roughly 3 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp begins to turn pink. Remove the shrimp from the heat and place in a bowl to the side.
Next, fill a medium size saucepan with water, and bring to a boil. Once the water in boiling, add roughly 1 cup of vermicelli noodles to the boiling water (you will typically have to break the noodles apart from the box they come in).
Allow the noodles to cook until the noodles soften (~3-4 minutes, they cook fast!) then remove from heat, drain, and set the noodles to the side in a small bowl.
Next, chop the lettuce, purple cabbage, carrot, mint, and cilantro into small pieces, and place in small bowls to make it easier for assembling the spring rolls.
Taking a medium size mixing bowl, fill in half way with water and place a rice paper into the water, submerging it entirely, and removing it after a few seconds.
Next, place the wet rice paper on a plate and begin adding all of your prepared ingredients to the lower bottom half of the rice paper. When placing your ingredients on the rice paper you only a need a pinch of each ingredient. Try not to overfill your rice paper or you will have a hard time rolling.
Once your ingredients are laid on the paper and the rice paper has begun to feel sticky roll the rice paper up from the bottom, then in from the right, then in from the left, and then again from the bottom rolling all the way to the top. See the image above for a picture explanation.
Repeat process until all of your ingredients are gone and you have roughly 20 spring rolls.
To make the dipping sauce simply combine all the ingredients together in a small pinch bowl, and stir.
Serve with your fresh spring rolls, and pretend that you are sitting on a Vietnamese street, watching the city pass you by.