There’s nothing better than a killer low-carb starter. Grab a few mates to help you prepare this baby, and expect praise when serving as this one’s a major crowd pleaser!
My love for Vietnamese food began when I met our family friends, Bella and Carsten Lehn, who are from Ho Chi Minh City. The Lehn’s were staying at the guesthouse here in Cape Town, when we started the friendship cooking and drinking wine in our kitchen. Since that first kitchen dinner, they’ve been back for numerous holidays, invested in a holiday home just down the road and have had mum to stay in Vietnam earlier this year. What special people!
Bella first taught me how to make the raw spring rolls. I must admit, it takes practice and a bit of patience to roll up a pile of little neatly tucked rolls. The secret is to have all your fillings prepared in little bowls prior to assembly. My family and I usually sit and roll together, and we always laugh as to who has the best (and worst) looking spring rolls.
Upon returning from her holiday, mum cooked Vietnamese for supper for a week on end! She still raves about street food and reminisces over the combo of fresh and tangy veggies with braaied pork. My pork satay are great for a dinner or cocktail party alongside the spring rolls. Serve with the peanut sauce and nuoc cham for dipping, and you’re in for a winner!
Raw spring rolls
15 rice paper wrappers
18 small prawn tails, deveined (about 1-2 tails per spring roll)
1 pkt. vermicelli rice noodles
1 head cos lettuce
2 carrots, peeled
Handful fresh mint
Handful fresh basil
8 spring onions
- Blanch prawn tails for 2-3 min or until cooked. Set aside to cool.
- Transfer vermicelli noodles to a glass bowl and pour over freshly boiled water. Leave to soak until cooked (about 8 min). Drain and set aside.
- Finely slice the carrots and zucchini into thin batons (long enough to fit in each roll). The better prepared your veggies, the more attractive the end result. Slice spring onions into long thin slivers. Wash and chop the cos leaves and set aside.
- Soak each rice wrapper in a shallow bowl of cold water until pliable. This usually takes about 1-1.5 min, but may vary from brand to brand. Remove the wrapper and lay out on a chopping board or flat surface.
- Arrange a small portion of herbs, vermicelli noodles, cos lettuce and vegetables in the wrapper. Tuck in the sides and fold over once. Add a prawn tail and fold over again. Lastly, add a spring onion leaving the end positioned outside the spring roll. Fold over a final time, using water to glue down the end of the roll.
- Arrange on a platter, garnish with lots of fresh coriander and serve with dipping sauces.
Peanut dipping sauce
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter, unsweetened
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp fresh garlic, crushed
½ tsp fresh chill, chopped
2 tbsp whole peanuts
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, except whole peanuts.
- Roughly chop peanuts and toast in a dry pan.
- Top dipping sauce with toasted peanuts before serving.
Nuoc cham dipping sauce
100 ml fresh lime juice
3 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. rice vinegar
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chili, finely chopped
- Combine lime juice, fish sauce and rice vinegar.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add garlic and chill.
*recipe adapted from Vietnamese Street Food (Lister & Pohl, 2011).
Braaied Pork Satay
500 g pork neck, sliced into thin strips
2 tbsp. lime juice
4 tsp. fresh garlic, crushed
2 stems lemongrass, chopped
½ brown onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. fresh ginger, crushed
6 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. fish sauce
½ tsp. Szechuan pepper (or ground black pepper)
4 tbsp. canola oil
- Soak skewers in boiling water until the water turns cold. Remove and drain.
- Finely slice pork neck into strips.
- Combine wet ingredients and ginger, lemongrass, garlic, onion and pepper to make the marinade.
- Marinade pork for 2 h in the fridge.
- Transfer pork onto skewers and braai over hot coals until cooked.
- Serve straight away with fresh chill, coriander and the dipping sauces.
Last weekend, our family hosted a Vietnamese dinner party. We served the spring rolls, pork satay, chicken pho (soup), noodles, hoisin duck, pork belly with crackling, beef and mushroom dumplings, carrot and daikon pickle salad and prawn crackers. To end off the meal, we served passion fruit parfait with shop bought berry sorbet and litchis. Our guests absolutely loved the food, whom all went back for seconds. I will definitely be doing a Vietnamese styled braai for my friends this summer!
If you try my Vietnamese Spring rolls & Braaied Pork Satay at home, don’t forget to snap and share with #galoobrious