Nem chay & phở cuốn. Making vegetarian Vietnamese rolls.

I never realised how many different types of spring roll there were until about a year ago.  Along with many New Zealanders, I've munched on a couple of the fried ones outside the fish 'n' chip shop on the way home from town on a Saturday night.  I also, like so many people I've talked to expected to arrive in Vietnam and be showered with the fresh prawn and shredded salad kind.  Sadly I moved to the wrong end of the country.  Luckily I was introduced to phở cuốn.  Delicious, especially when Linh from Bố Dể Quán (everyones favourite vege place) makes them.  Way back in November I dragged my friend Raghu along and Linh showed us how to make phở cuốn- fresh rolls and nem chay rán- vegetarian fried spring rolls.  Below are some pictures I took and I attempt to explain how its done, but Linh does it much better!  Linh is offering more cooking classes at her shop in Hanoi when she can fit them in, see below for details.


ALOT of grated potato, cu dau (jimica) and yam

shopped peanuts

chopped spring onions

chopped and fried shallots

rice papers


Apparently if you put a lettuce leaf in with the papers it stops them drying out and going stale! Genius.  

Fry it all up in a hot wok with oil.  Then roll.  Theres quite an art to this, Linh and her mum kept undoing ours and redoing them.  They looked exactly the same to us but they're the experts!  The idea is to wrap tightly so no oil seeps inside while frying.  You want crispy on the outside and hot but fresh tasting on the inside.  We rolled on damp (CLEAN!) dishcloths. Also genius.

Now Fry.  Hold a couple of chop sticks upright in the oil, if you see bubbles stuck to them its hot enough!  Fry both sides until brown and drain. 


Grated cu dau (Jimica) 

Fresh shallots

Soaked wild mushroom

fried then sliced tofu

giờ chạy (fake meat, looks like luncheon to me, but tastes good) sliced.

bánh phở- noodle sheets 

Mix top 4 ingredients with rice powder to soak up moisture.  Then lie leaves; lettuce, tiá tô (the purple leaf), hung cho (the dark green leaf) and húng lũi (mint) on the noodle sheet, put some mixture on top and roll.


The dipping sauce is vital.  Both rolls we dipped in Linh's homemade dipping sauce made from vegetarian fish sauce, fresh chili and garlic, vinegar or lime juice and sugar dissolved in warm water.  Its good with EVERYTHING. 

If you like the look of the food, Bố Dể Quán has loads of other amazing vege dishes including Bún riêu, tomato tofu noodle soup.  Visit them at 164 Âu Cơ, Tây Hồ Hà Nội.  Contact Linh on 0128 6398889 if you're interested in a Cooking Class.  Its loads of fun as a group!

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