How to make Vietnamese Spring Rolls

There are a few times throughout the year when spring rolls touch my heart. This is one of those times. The smell in the air from flowers and plants blooming, and the cool breeze to name a couple. This past weekend was one of those weekends where the weather was simply amazing; warm and breezy one day, cool the other. These feelings sparked something that I love to make and enjoy eating. Spring Rolls. Sit back and enjoy this recipe and the appetizer. They are fresh and really easy to make.

I make nearly 12 spring rolls and here is what I used.

Ingredients include:

  • shredded carrots (3)
  • angel hair or vermicelli pasta; 1/2 a box
  • shredded green onion (cut lengthwise) 4-5
  • cooked shrimp, sliced in half; nearly 15 (30 when sliced)
  • cilantro (1/2 bunch, chopped)
  • spring roll wrappers (12 or as many as you are going to make)

If you have reviewed the ingredients you can determine a few things; they are healthy, tasty, and easy to chop/dice/slice. Trust me, the only time intensive piece here is soaking the wrapper in warm water to allow softening for the wrapping.

Ready? Here we go.

Get your noodles cooking and boil as the box says. Drain and let cool. Cool is the message here on the noodles as you do not want to put warm or hot noodles in the wrapper.

As the noodles are cooking this is a great time to prepare your ingredients by chopping/slicing your ingredients. Because of the transparent wrapper, you can determine how you want to layout your ingredients. Do you want to guests to see shrimp on the outer layer, lettuce, carrot? You can be as creative as you want here. Keep slicing.
Cooled noodles, and veggies and shrimp ready to go? Good. Get ready to wrap.

When visiting an Asian market, you can find several types of wrappers. I use this type of wrapper. They are cheap, plentiful, and reliable.

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Submerge a wrapper in the water and move it around for a minute or two. You will begin to fill it soften. Please note that if you let it go too long, you might as well toss it because it will most likely tear in the wrapping process. (If it tears while wrapping, do not fear, just eat it.)

O.K. Wrapper is soft. Get it on a plate and lay it flat. Arrange Noodles, green onion, carrot, and cilantro in the mid to lower section of the wrapper. Fold the bottom area of the wrapper of the ingredients and begin to roll. Tuck in the sides, and continue to roll. The wrapper will seal itself.

Continue this process. Do not worry if you tear a few. This is the learning process as to how long you need to soak the water, as well as how much you can stuff these things.

I serve them with a sweet chili sauce. Enjoy.

Pancit Bihon

Another simple dish that is easy to make is Pancit Bihon. This is another recipe my wife shared with me, and I have tweaked to make it my own.

Pancit Bihon Recipe

Pancit is very thin rice noodles. You can make them with meat and vegetables. My recipe includes the following:

  • 1 bag of Pancit Bihon
  • Olive or canola oil
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 celery, chopped the same size as carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped the same
  • Cooked chicken, shredded, chopped
  • Shrimp, shell or no shell (optional)
  • Salt, Black pepper

Soak the noodles in warm/hot water for nearly 30 minutes. This process softens the noodles. Be mindful that over heating these noodles will kill the dish.

Chop your vegetables and get them ready as this is a pretty fast process. Lightly oil a large wok or cooking dish. Add your vegetables and sauté for 8-10 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the chicken and shrimp (optional) and mix. Salt and pepper the mixture. Drain your noodles, however reserve a half cup of the water. Add the noodles to the mix and with a couple of large spoons, toss and turn to mix everything together. Add about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and keep mixing. Add more pepper to your liking.

Taste and add more soy sauce, salt or pepper, if needed. Serve immediately. This dish is really good as a leftover as well.

Filipino Barbecue

I will be the first to admit that when my wife made this for me, it was wonderful. Anyone who knows me knows that I will do my own little twist to a recipe, enhance it, if you will. This recipe stems from my wife’s upbringing. In her house, barbecue is the dish. It was not chicken, ribs, or anything else you might expect as barbecue. When they talk barbecue, it means meat on a stick, and it is something amazing.

Filipino Barbecue Recipe

This recipe is way too simple, and it is awesome served with beer, rice, papaya salad, potato salad, or great on its own.

  • Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt (need a little fat), thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Wooden skewers (soaked for one hour or more)

Keep in my that this meat will end up on bamboo skewers so you will not want chunks of meat, and you will want thin slices of meat, possibly a 1/4 inch thick. Depending on the amount of pork and barbecue you are making, this process can take some time. Once you are done slicing, add the garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, pepper, and green onions to a large bowl, and whisk until the brown sugar is dissolved. Add in your pork, and toss to make sure all of the meat is coated.

I use a zip lock bag for this next step because I typically marinate the meat for 12-24 hours.
Add the meat to the bag and place in the refrigerator.

Once you are ready, sew them onto the skewers, about three slices per skewer. Heat  your grill, and cook the pork. You know when the sugars start to melt into the meat, become one, and look heavenly.

Keep in mind that these will go fast and trust me, you and your family are just going to love them. Enjoy.

Som Tam Recipe – Thai Papaya Salad

After spending a lovely day with my wife, I decided to invite my in-laws over for a Mother’s Day dinner. Seeing that my father-in-law is Filipino, I decided to make his yummy barbecue recipe, my egg rolls, a thai papaya salad that will rock your socks off, pancit with chicken and shrimp, and curry mussels. Sounds like a lot. It was.
Som Tam Recipe
I started off the family with a dozen or so egg rolls that I wrapped a few weeks back. My father-n-law said these were better than the Filipino ones, so I took that as a serious compliment. I kept the sauce for the egg rolls really simple. White vinegar, chopped garlic, and ground pepper.

Anyway, I am not posting about egg rolls, as I posted that on Seis de Mayo. Because I was making pork barbecue, I wanted to introduce something spicy, sweet, and tangy. Bring on the papaya salad. This has some intense flavors and smells so prepare yourself.

Ingredients include:

  • 1 young papaya (larger in length, green) commonly found in asian markets.
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (beware of the smell, but move on)
  • 3 TB of nam pla (I use the 3 crab brand)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 red thai peppers (spicy, so adjust to 1, 2, 3, or more)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 a lime
  • Asian Green beans (optional)
  • peanuts (optional)

First peel the papaya. Once peeled, shred the papaya until thin strips. Once you have enough for your salad, add garlic, shrimp paste, tomatoes, beans, and thai peppers to a mortar and pound with a wooden pestle (I purchased both mortar and pestle at an asian market for six dollars). Do not pound too hard as you really just want to bring out the juices of the bean and tomatoes.

Add the papaya, fish sauce, peanuts, and sugar into the mortar and begin to use your pestle and a large spoon and begin to toss and mix. Transfer to serving plate and eat with rice, sticky rice, or fork and chopsticks. This dish brings great flavors, maybe not meant for everyone (most people at the table could not handle the intensity of the thai peppers, so adjust to your liking), however is great with barbecue.