Sunday 25 February 2018

Rice paper rolls with nuoc cham

This recipe is llight and bright but still filling, and has all those 'front of the mouth' zingy flavours that you need if you are watching what you eat..

Diana Henry

This is a particularly good recipe for serving to friends who fret about their weight.

It's light and bright but still filling, and has all those 'front of the mouth' zingy flavours that you need if you are watching what you eat (the thrill comes from strong flavours, rather than the satisfaction you get from rich, starch-heavy dishes).

The rice bowl has filling raw fish and 'good' carbs and the whole meal is beautiful to look at.

The Vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham, is addictive. These look lovely but are a bit of a fiddle; worth it if you have friends for dinner, though. Be patient as you put them together. I often eat the filling on its own as a main course, with the dipping sauce and warm brown rice or rice noodles.


Serves 6 (makes 18)

For the rolls

18 rice paper wrappers

150g cooked, shelled and deveined prawns (ideally organic)

100g iceberg lettuce, shredded

75g carrot, in matchsticks

1 cheek of peeled green mango, cut in batons (optional but lovely)

40g beansprouts

Leaves from 10g each of mint, basil and coriander

For the nuoc cham

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded, chopped

6 tsp caster sugar

Juice of 2 limes, or as needed

6 tbsp fish sauce

Rice paper rolls


Put the rice papers, two or three at a time, into a bowl of water and let them soften for a few seconds. Don't leave them soaking or they will become too sticky to handle. Lift them out on to a damp tea towel. Leave them to dry a little and become flexible; they should look dimpled. If you try to roll them before they are ready, they will split.

Everything else for the rolls is their filling. Making sure each roll gets some of all the components. Lay some filling down the centre of each roll. Wet your hands so they don't stick to the paper, then roll the paper tightly round the filling, tucking in the sides as you go. Put them on a plate as you finish them, seam-side down, and cover with damp kitchen paper. If you're not going to serve them immediately, they will sit fine for about 12 hours in the fridge.

To make the nuoc cham, put the garlic and chilli into a mortar and pound them with the pestle. Gradually add the sugar, lime juice and fish sauce, pounding as you do so.

Serve the rice paper rolls with the dipping sauce.

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