I was searching our kitchen for something good to cook, when I discovered a forgotten package of rice-noodle vermicelli. That solved all my dinner problems, knowing I had rice paper and ground pork: perfect for making what are basically Thai burritos.
These are pretty easy to make, and there are many options for fillings and ingredient ratios. Play around with ratios that work for you. The recipe below is pretty much as I made, as pictured.
What you’ll need:
- 2t chili oil (any oil will work, though)
- 1 pound lean ground pork
- Rice vermicelli—however much you want for 4 rolls (cellophane noodles, made from mung beans would also work very well)
- 0.5 medium onion or 1 whole shallot, coarsely chopped and sautéed
- 1T garlic paste or 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Fish sauce
- Soy sauce
- Tamarind paste
- Spring roll sauce
Great options or additions:
- Shitake or oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped and sautéed
- Lime juice
- Bean sprouts (Careful with these, there have been e. coli and salmonella outbreaks from these. Avoid eating raw if you have a compromised immune system.)
- Ginger paste
- Thai chilies, stemmed and de-seeded
- Tomato, de-seeded and finely chopped
- Cilantro, stemmed and roughly chopped
- Thai or holy basil, stemmed and roughly chopped
What to do:
Add the oil to a medium fry pan over medium heat. Add the onion and gently sauté until soft.
Add the pork to the softened onions and add about 0.5 cups water. Break up the meat as the water reaches a medium simmer. Add however much fish sauce, soy sauce and tamarind you wish. I used about 2T of each. You would add the optional vegetables at this point (except basil and cilantro—those are added to the final assembly mix). Let the meat simmer until it is cooked and the liquid has cooked off. Don’t cook it until dry, though. The meat should still be moist.
When done, take the pan off the heat and spread the meat/veggies across the inside of the pan to facilitate cooling. You’ll need it cool enough to work with it as you assemble the rolls.
When the meat has cooled enough to work with, cook the noodles however the package says. When done, drain and run cold water over them to cool them down. After the cool water has drained well, cut them into short pieces with kitchen shears.
Add the cooked meat/veggies and noodles to a large bowl and mix well. If you’re using it, add the cilantro or basil at this point.
Now it’s time for assembly. Here’s a great 44-second tutorial on how to roll them. It shows what would take a few paragraphs to convey in writing. Three things I’ll add to the video, though:
- When you submerge the rice paper, it needs only 5-10 seconds of immersion—any more and it gets too limp and weak.
- After removing the paper from the water in preparation for rolling, lay the paper out on a clean towel—this absorbs the extra water, allowing for a tighter roll. Blot the top with a paper towel, too.
- Roll these as tightly as you can. The more solid and compacted they are, the easier they will be to dip and eat.
As in the video, lay out your ingredients (in this case, the rice, meat and veggie mixture) in a line across the third of the roll closest to you, fold the ends in and tightly roll. Optionally adding a line of spring roll sauce across the ingredients before rolling is a great way to add even more flavor.
These are best warmed in the microwave a bit before enjoying them with spring roll dipping sauce.