Imperial Spring Roll Noodle Salad

  • 30 rice paper wrappers (banh trang)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, stalks removed
  • 2 oz bean thread noodles (soaked in hot water for 15 minutes)
  • Rice stick noodle (handful for each serving)
  • Handful dried black fungus mushrooms (soaked for 15 minutes)
  • Chopped green leaf lettuce
  • Sliced pickled turnips/carrots
  • Crushed roasted peanuts (no salt)
  • 1 peeled cucumber thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 3 scallions finely sliced
  • 1 oz tofu thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch bean sprouts
  • 6 oz cooked crab meat
  • 1 oz cooked bamboo chopped
  • 2 tsp sugar (or 1 tsp honey)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Nuoc Mam is a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce. You can find ready made ones in Asian grocery stores. It's basically a combination of garlic, chili peppers, fish sauce, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, and salt.

To make the stuffing, squeeze dry bean thread noodles and roughly chop them. Do the same with the black fungus mushrooms. Mix with eggs, fish sauce, garlic, sugar, onion, bamboo, scallions, salt and pepper. Let it marinate for 15 minutes.

Have a clean damp dish towel laid flat on your work surface. Dip once sheet of rice paper in a bowl of hot water. Usually 5 seconds is enough. Place on the damp towel. Place one mint leaf and a slice of tofu to the nearest edge towards you. Spoon 1 tbsp of filling, fold that edge over and carefully roll halfway, fold over the sides and continue rolling until sealed. Set aside and repeat. Don't let them touch or they'll stick together.

Heat enough vegetable oil so rolls are almost submerged. Make sure it's hot. Carefully place a few rolls making sure they don't touch. They fry up incredibly quick so roll them around until its barely golden brown; 1-2 minutes. Drain them standing up in a collender lined with paper towels.

Follow packaging directions to cooking rice stick noodles. In a bowl, assemble as follows. Handful of chopped lettuce. Handful of rice stick noodles. Sprinkle pickled turnips/carrots, cucumbers, and bean sprouts. Place a few pieces of spring rolls on top. Drizzle nuoc mam sauce to taste. Sprinkle crushed peanuts and add a few mint leaves.

Serve it with fresh lime juice soda (half limenade and carbonated water) or white tea.