Vietnam will always have a special place in both of our hearts and our livers (thanks to the mass consumption of Vodka Vietnam). We met and worked at a pho restaurant and spent the better part of two months backpacking through the bustling streets of Hanoi down to the serene waters of the Mekong Delta. It’s only fitting that our first food post paid homage to our ongoing fling with Vietnam.
Salad rolls (Goi Cuon) are a popular light Vietnamese snack food served cold or at room temperature. Ubiquitous in Western pho houses everywhere, our version comes with a West Coast twist; with smoked salmon lox and grilled scallops replacing the usual chicken and shrimp. For added flavour, we grilled our veggies, marinated our scallops in spicy peanut sauce and used Thai basil as well as cilantro. While most Western recipes calls for a peanut dipping sauce, our rendition is served with the traditional fish sauce (Nuoc cham). This was an experimental recipe with delicious results. These can be made well in advanced, perfect for entertaining guests.
West Coast Salad Rolls
For the Salad Rolls
- 4 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
- 5 ounces smoked salmon lox
- 4 jumbo scallops, sliced into thirds
- 1 zucchini, sliced into 2 inch strips
- 2 carrots, sliced into 2 inch strips
- 1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
- 4 green onions, cut into 2 inch strips
- 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced into 2 inch strips (optional)
- 1 pkg rice paper
- 1 cup of fresh herbs (We used Thai basil and cilantro)
For the Fish Sauce (Nuoc cham)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced (4 cloves for hardcore garlic fiends)
- 1 finely chopped Thai chili, seeds removed (or left in if you like it hot)
- 3 limes, juiced
- 1/2 cup coconut pop (can be substituted with water)
- 3-4 tablespoons of sugar to taste
- 1 teaspoon of grated ginger (optional)
- 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar (optional)
For the Fish Sauce (Nuoc Cham)
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir thoroughly until sugar is dissolved. Allow ingredients to marinate together for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight for maximum flavour.
For the salad rolls
- Soak vermicelli noodles in cold water for about 20 minutes. Drain the noodles when they are soft and then cook noodles in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove the noodles from heat, rinse with cold water and drain well before use.
- Grill veggies until golden brown. We used a tabletop grill, but alternatively you can bake them on an greased cookie sheet or grill them on the bbq.
- Grill scallops, searing for 30 seconds on each side.
- Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one sheet of rice paper in the hot water for 2 seconds to soften. Lay wrapper flat, and place desired amounts of noodles, seafood, grilled veggies, lettuce and herbs in the centre. We experimented with different combinations and found our that our gluttonous tendency of including all ingredients resulted in the best tasting salad rolls. Beginning at the bottom edge of wrapper, tightly wrap the ingredients, taking care to tuck the edges in as you roll.
*Pro tip: to make wrapping easier, use two sheets of rice paper intersecting them at the centre. This not only makes your rolls less prone to tearing, but also allows you to fit more ingredients inside. This tip is the result of years of stalking our Vietnamese kitchen staff, who wrapped hundreds of these delectable rolls things every week…you’re welcome!
What is your favourite Vietnamese dish? Post your answers below!