Thursday, 29 January 2015

Just because it looks Vietnamese doesn't mean it tastes Vietnamese!

In any supermarket I go to I love checking out the "world foods" section for any interesting snacks or spices I haven't tried before. I've noticed that many supermarkets have really expanded this section in recent years and when I was in Sainsbury's a couple of weeks ago I spotted this Vietnamese Spring Rolls kit:

Nem Viet, Vietnamese Spring Rolls Kit

With my recent sushi success fresh in my mind I thought I'd see if my apparent aptitude for rolled, Asian foods could be repeated.....

The kit came with round sheets of rice paper, a pack of vermicelli rice noodles and some Nuoc Cham dipping sauce. The instructions were very simple: pour boiling water on the rice noodles and leave for a few minutes until tender, and simply dip each rice paper sheet in warm water for few seconds before compiling the rolls.

Uncooked spring roll rice paper
Uncooked rice paper is weird
Cooking spring roll rice paper

I quickly discovered that when they say to dip the paper for a few seconds, they really mean it. Any more that about 3 seconds and the paper becomes too soft to roll properly - it needs some structural integrity!

Next for the filling. The kit suggests adding cooked prawns and shredded lettuce along with the rice noodles, but we thought we'd go crazy and add some grated carrot too.


Lettuce and rice noodles

Grated carrot

Then to roll. This wasn't easy because of the amount of filling trying to escape but you have to kind of roll it whilst at the same time tucking in the sides, like a burrito. It took a lot of concentration so there are no action shots!

The result:

Completed rolls

They look pretty authentic I think! Despite them falling apart as soon as we picked them up, I was very pleased: another rolling success! However we were really disappointed with the taste. They were so bland.

Luckily the provided Nuoc Cham added some much needed Vietnamese flavour, but otherwise the rolls were really nothing special, and not at all as nice as those you get in a restaurant. Without mint, coriander and Vietnamese basil this is just a prawn salad in a roll. I'm not sure how I expected them to taste but I think the kit should have at least suggested adding some fresh herbs. Now I know for next time, but I think I'd rather go to a Vietnamese restaurant and have the real deal instead.

Next I try making: Swiss roll 

(I'm kidding)