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Rice paper-wrapped salad rolls (goi cuon)

Rice paper-wrapped salad rolls  (goi cuon)


1/3 pound pork shoulder, untrimmed, cut into two pieces
12 medium-sized raw shrimp, unpeeled
8 (12-inch) round rice papers plus extras
1 small head red leaf lettuce, leaves separated and washed
4 ounces bun (rice vermicelli or rice sticks), boiled 5 minutes, rinsed and drained
1 cup bean sprouts
1/2 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup Vietnamese bean dipping sauce

Vietnamese Bean Dipping Sauce (tuong goi cuon)
¼ cup whole fermented soybeans
½ cup water
1/3 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon ground chile paste (or to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped roasted peanuts


Cook the pork in boiling salted water until it's done but still firm enough for slicing, about 30 minutes.

While the pork is cooking, bring another small pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Rinse under running water and set aside to drain. When they're cool enough to handle, shell, devein and cut the shrimp in half lengthwise. Refresh in cold water and set aside.

Remove the pork from the heat and drain. When it's cool enough to handle, slice the pork into thin slices, about 1 inch-by-2 ½ inches. Place on a small plate and set aside.

Set up a salad roll "station." Line a cutting board with a damp kitchen towel. Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water and place it nearby. (Keep some boiling water handy to add to the bowl.) Arrange the ingredients in the order they will be used: the pork, shrimp, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint and lettuce.

Working with 2 rice paper sheets at a time, dip 1 sheet, edge first, in the hot water and turn it to wet completely, about 10 seconds. Lay the sheet down on the towel. Repeat with the other rice paper and place it alongside the first. This allows you to work with one while the second is being set.

Line the bottom third of the rice sheet with 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, and top with two slices of pork. Add 1 tablespoon rice vermicelli, 1 tablespoon bean sprouts, and 4 to 5 mint leaves. Arrange the ingredients so the rolls will end up being about 5 inches long and 1 inch wide. Halve a lettuce leaf lengthwise along the center rib. Roll up in one piece and place on the filling. (Trim if it's too long.) While pressing down on the ingredients, fold over the filling then fold in the two sides and roll into a cylinder. If the paper feels thick, stop at three-quarters of the way and trim the end piece. (Too much rice paper can make the rolls chewy.) Repeat with the remaining rice papers and filling.

To serve, cut the rolls into two or four pieces and place them upright on a plate. Serve with the sauce on the side.

Vietnamese Bean Dipping Sauce (tuong goi cuon)
Place the soybeans, water, coconut milk, vinegar, onions and sugar in a blender or food processor and process just until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. (If you don't have a food processor, cook the soybean mixture first then beat with a whisk.) Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 5 minutes. Add a little water if it's too thick. Set aside to cool.

When serving, transfer to individual sauce bowls and garnish with chile paste and chopped peanuts. This sauce will keep up to two weeks if refrigerated.

Serves 6 to 8.