Sunday, December 11, 2011

Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls), in a vegetarian-twist


When I dine in Lemon Grass in Ayala Terraces, my meal will never be complete without the Vietnamese Spring Roll – I love the light, the crisp-cold fresh vegetables that is from time to time accented by unfamiliar herb taste but complemented with a sweet-spicy peanut dipping sauce. I am used to eating fresh lumpia (or lumpiang sariwa), our version of the dish with ‘ubod ng niyog’ rolled in soft egg-flour wrap with a sweet peanut sauce, so eating this ‘lumpia’ version of Vietnam is something I can relate into.



Indeed we are all Asians – If Chinese has lumpia (Hokkien term is ‘Lunpia’ for spring rolls) which we Pinoys had adopted and made our popular versions of either fried or fresh, Vietnamese have their own version too. Vietnamese cuisine is known throughout the world as one having the healthiest cuisines since most of their dishes call for fresh vegetables and herbs –and they eat it raw, either as a side dish, toppings or mixed in soups. That is also the reason of that ‘unfamiliar taste’ in the spring roll – the herbs which we Pinoys are not used to.

If you opt for something healthy, then include Goi Cuon in your order list if you happen to dine in any of the Asian restos in the city. But you can prepare this easily at home since most of the ingredients are readily available. The recipe that I will be sharing was only tried once, before this blog was born months ago. Good thing I was able to take photos in each of the steps. For this recipe, I’m tweaking this to a much healthier version by using tuna instead of pork or shrimp. For quite sometime, I have been very particular on what I eat, that is why I prepare my own food rather than going out and eat somewhere else.



WHAT YOU WILL NEED:

For the Filling:

1 medium size Japanese Cucumber, julienned
1 medium size Carrots, julienned
6-8  leaves of garlic chives
6-8  leaves of Vietnamese Coriander
6-8 leaves of Sweet Basil or Thai Basil
6-8 leaves of Mint
1 small can Tuna chunks in brine, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Strands of vermicilli (sotanghon or glass noodles), cooked

For the Wrap:

8-10 pieces Banh Trang or Rice Paper
Warm Water
Lettuce or herbs for garnish

For the Hoisin-Peanut Dipping Sauce:

100 grams Hoisin Sauce (Sweet)
25 grams peanut butter
25 grams Chili Garlic Sauce (Use chili sauce if you are a garlic-less vegetarian)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or common vinegar
Minced chillies for desired spiciness
¼ cup skinless peanuts, roasted and pounded















 




HOW TO DO IT:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients for the hoisin-peanut dipping sauce, reserve a few of the peanuts for garnishing. Mix until all ingredients are smoothly combined together. If too thick, you can add a little water until desired consistency is achieved. You can adjust the sweetness or saltiness depending on your taste. Chill before serving.

  1. In a bowl of warm water, dip one rice paper at a time, about 3-5 seconds or according to package directions. This is the tricky part here! Be careful not to over soak the wrap or it will get soggy and disintegrates when rolling, not too dry or you will end up chewing the wrap. This takes time to learn, so prepare at least a couple of extra rice paper wraps for the miss-and-hit moment. After soaking, make sure to drain water and rest this on your working plate for another 10-20 seconds to let the moisture absorbed and the rice paper is gelatinous and pliable. (Take note of the time, we are working on seconds here, so make sure you do it quick and speedy.)

  1. Now let’s do the wrapping just like our ‘lumpia’ style: place carrots alternating with cucumber and any combinations of the herbs and few strands of the sotanghon at the lower 1/3 space in the wrapper. Add drained tuna seasoned with a little salt and pepper, covering all the vegetables strips. Flip the lower portion to cover the filling and start rolling from the bottom, and flip sides when almost at the midway of the wrap, and continue rolling. You can seal edges by damping a little water.

  1. Slice the rolls or serve it whole, arrange in platter with the remaining herbs as side dish. Serve with your chilled hoisin peanut dipping sauce sprinkled with the remaining ground peanuts and chopped chillies.

Serves: 4 persons

 



TIPS:
  1. You can use the common cucumbers, make sure it is cored and seeded. I recommend the use of Japanese cucumber since it is lamost seedless and crunchy when fresh. You can also remove the skin if you wish too.
  2. For the carrots, look for the one that has “Asian” brand or known most to us as carrots from Baguio. However these variety of carrots are exported from other countries, hence the flavor is much sweeter than the ones cultivated here inour country. You can tell the difference by its much brighter orange color and sweet flavor, usually in clean soft skin.
  3. For rice paper, I found mine at the grocery section of Pacific Mall in Mandaue after looking at three main grocery stores in the City. Most of the grocery has asian sections, make sure to get the one labeled for “fresh spring roll” otherwise you can get the one that is intended for the fried roll.
  4. You can prepare ahead of time the hoisin-peanut dipping sauce so it is okey to prepare a lot and stock in refrigerator.
  5. You can prepare the goi cuon ahead of time and keep chilled in the refrigerator before serving

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