Spring rolls are perhaps the most recognizable item on a Vietnamese menu.
Spring rolls are similar to a sandwich, in its most basic concept, in that a container is employed to hold together diverse ingredients.
The difference is two pieces of bread are traded for thin sheets of rice paper.
To make the perfect roll requires some practice, but it is a surprisingly simple procedure, even if your first attempts lack a certain aesthetic quality.
It does not have to be pretty to be delicious. My friend, Tuyen Tran, recently taught a spring roll making class at the Mary C. Cultural Center's Lunch ‘n Learn program, and it was a great success.
If you have not attended a class there you should. See the Mary C. website for details and reservations.
BASIC SPRING ROLLS
1 package round rice paper
1-2 cups rice stick noodle cooked according to directions
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup mint leaves
24 boiled shrimp
Long leaf lettuce
Get your items in order, as this is going to be an assembly line. Other than the ingredients listed, all you will need is a bowl of hot water. Dip a single sheet of rice paper into the water; it will almost immediately become pliable. Lay it on a flat surface, layer in the lettuce, noodles, cilantro and mint, lastly add the shrimp. Carefully start to roll up the paper, tuck the ends in and roll over them to seal the package. That's it. You are finished. Now all you have to do is decide on a dipping sauce. Don't forget the peanuts.