Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Vietnamese Cold Rolls - Nem Nuong with Nuoc Cham

Nem Nuong are flavourful grilled meatballs made out of minced pork and infused with garlic, fish sauce, sugar and coriander. This recipe is a heavily adapted version of Jill Dupliex that was published in the Sydney Sunday Morning Herald.

“The defining characteristic of Vietnamese cooking is the presence of basket-loads of fresh herbs and salad greens”. These little meatballs are traditionally eaten wrapped in lettuce leaves or rice paper rolls with herbs and rice noodles or put into soups for pork ball broth.

Nuoc Cham is an aromatic traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce paired with cold rolls in particular. The sauce combines contrasting, yet carefully balanced sweet, sour and spicy flavours that Oriental cuisines such as Thai, Cambodian and Vietnamese rely on, using the complex flavours to complement and boast delicate won tons, dim sums and cold rolls. Fresh mint is set off by fiery red chilli and the sweetness of sugar takes the edge of the tart acidity of zesty lemon, the fish sauce and the vinegar add a sharp astringent quality that pulls the flavours together. I also added a serving of kimchee that went well with the cold rolls.

For Nem Nuong: 500g minced pork, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground pepper, 1 tbsp fish sauce, 2 tsp caster sugar, 2 tbsp torn coriander leaves
For Nuoc Cham Sauce:1 tsp caster sugar, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, 3 tbsp fish sauce, 1 tsp vinegar/ rice wine, 1 fresh red chilli, sliced, handful mint leaves chopped finely.
For the Cold Rolls: Pack of cold roll wrappers, kettle of boiling water, medium sized heat-proof bowl, 200g dried bean-thread vermicelli, 2 handful of picked mint leaves, 2 handful baby spinach (optional), side plate.
For Nem Nuong: Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking tray (with sides) with aluminium foil. Combine the minced pork, garlic, salt, pepper, fish sauce, sugar, coriander and knead until well mixed. With wet hands, roll the pork mixture into balls the size of a walnut and place in rows on the lined baking tray. Once all the balls have been formed, place the tray in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until golden brown. Half way through, remove from oven and turn with tongs.
For the Nuoc Cham: To make the dressing, mix the sugar and lime juice, then add the fish sauce and chilli. Toss the drained noodles and torn mint and coriander leaves in the dressing.
Assembling the cold rolls: Fill the medium sized bowl with the vermicelli and cover with boiling water. It needs only 2 to 3 minutes to soften, then remove from the bowl, drain and set aside. Re-fresh the bowl halfway with boiling water from the kettle. Take a single cold roll wrapper, dip it into the bowl of boiling water carefully. Slide each side in to the middle so it is damp, but pull it out within 10 seconds to avoid it getting soggy. Shake out the wrapper and place on the side plate, smoothing it out completely. In the middle of the wrapper, arrange 3-4 mint leaves and baby spinach leaves if using, place three meatballs on top, enough vermicelli to cover the meatballs. Pull the wrapper tightly across the meatballs and vermicelli stuffing and wrap lengthwise first, and then pull the sides in tightly, it will fuse with the rice paper at the centre. Lay on a serving platter and complete the rest of the rolls. Serve with Nouc Cham dipping sauce.


Mochachocolata Rita said...

thanks for dropping by my blog

wow! i haven't tried this at home, it looks like one fun activity for next weekend ^_^

MEGalomaniac said...

Your welcome. Will be back soon! Do try it out - absolutely delicious fresh flavours! And fun to make too!