Making a Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Roll is like Making a Burrito!

by Ramona on April 11, 2010

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There is a big different between a Spring Roll and an Egg Roll!

In a Chinese Restaurant there usually isn’t a choice.  But with the Chinese Restaurants combining their menus with Vietnamese food, you will see on the menu Spring Rolls (or Summer Rolls) and Egg Rolls.  So what’s the difference?

An Egg Roll is fried and can have different meat ingredients as the filling, where a Spring Roll is fresh, and only the Shrimp and the Vermicelli is cooked. It’s like eating a fresh salad rolled up in a Rice Paper to hold it together.

Did you know that there is also a difference between a Prawn and a Shrimp?  I always thought that a Prawn meant that you had the whole Shrimp, including the head, and the Shrimp was like in a Shrimp Cocktail, deveined and with only the tail left on it, or totally peeled in cooked in recipes.

I was wrong!  I’m still kinda confused. Here’s the definition:   Let’s get this straight.  there are big time differences between shrimp and prawns.  The main difference is in….what else?  Bigness!  There are other differences to be sure such as the gill structure, but for cooking and eating purposes the difference between a shrimpy-shrimp and a brawny prawn have to do with the size. The word or descriptor…prawn is generally used when the count is 15 or less per pound, anything smaller would fall under the shrimp category.

It would sound funny to call them Vietnamese Prawn Spring Rolls.  It’s harder to say too!

Since my recipe calls for medium sized, we’ll call them Shrimp.

Now that we have the Shrimp thing straightened out, the next challenge is the Rice Paper Wrapper.  Have you ever seen a jelly fish in a tank?  Where you really have to look carefully to see the actually body?  When you put the Rice Paper Wrapper in warm water, it becomes transparent.  It’s a slippery little wrapper too!  And watch out, if you get a fold in it, forget  it and you should just start with another one.  By the time you get one fold out, there is another one, the wrapper is starting to dry off and becomes sticky, oh, did I mention that it tears very easily?  Hope you have a lot of patience.  But after you master removing the Rice Paper Wrapper from the water and can get it flat on your counter top, the battle is almost won.

Once you get the Rice Paper Wrapper onto the counter top just run your hand over it to smooth out the Rice Paper Wrapper so there are no bubbles.  This will also remove the excess water.  By removing the excess water, it gets a little sticky. In the picture, I have placed the shrimp on the wrapper.  Do you even see the Rice Paper Wrapper?

Here’s a tip:  Restaurants like to save money, so they slice the shrimp in half lengthwise and place it on the Rice Paper Wrapper curved side out, so you don’t notice that you are only getting a half of a shrimp!  I have figured out that half of the shrimp takes up less room and remember this is an appetizer,  not a meal. lol

By remembering that the Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls are appetizers and not a meal, you will put very little of the ingredients into your Spring Roll.  You want to make sure you have enough of the Rice Paper Wrapper to wrap and seal in all of your filling. Also, you want to place the shrimp closest to your body and in the upper half of the Rice Paper Wrapper, then put the rest of the ingredients on top of the shrimp.

So now you have piled up all of the ingredients and you’re ready to roll.  Take in a deep breath (I don’t know why, but if I hold my breath and tighten my lips, they seem to roll better) and very, very carefully peel up the edge closest to you.  Don’t tear it!  Place the lifted edge over the top of your pile and then very, very carefully tuck in your ingredients and roll just to get the Rice Paper Wrapper to stick to the center of the wrapper.  Then fold in the sides, making sure you continue the fold for the rest of the wrapper.  And continue to roll!

If you have ever made a Burrito, then you will become a pro in no time.  With practice you will be able to get them to all be the same size too.  Thank goodness you can make the Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Roll ahead of time, so you won’t be under any pressure.

The Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Roll is excellent dipped in my homemade Vietnamese Peanut Sauce.  The recipe is included in the Spring Roll recipe.

You can order the Rice Paper Wrappers and have them delivered right to your door!

Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Roll Recipe

I know you will enjoy my Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls, and you family will request them often!

From My Vietnamese Kitchen,
Ramona Werst

Perfecting rolling the Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Roll…

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