And what’s better to celebrate on the first day of the season than with spring rolls, delicious rice paper wraps with goodies inside, often dipped in a piquant soy based sauce, or a spicy peanut puree.
Long time readers of myMEGusta may recall a 2014 posting about these treats, as well as egg rolls, perennial Asian favorite foods.
On a recent voyage to Vietnam, spring rolls turned up all over the place, from street food stalls (which we did not sample) to lovely Vietnamese restaurants (vetted for food safety by the tour operators), each more delicious than the next.
One side tour was a sampan excursion up the Mekong Delta from Saigon to the inland rice paddies and villages.
In one little shop, entrepreneurial locals had gathered authentic artisans to demonstrate local food crafts, from candy making to real puffed rice (and old fashioned popped rice bars, somewhat like Rice Krispies Treats with flavors like ginger or durian). There was even a still (not operational) and local fire water (which we declined).
The standout was an elegant local lady whose deft skills allowed her to produce prodigious quantities of rice paper, or spring roll wraps as we would call them, and we watched as she transformed rice gruel into translucent pancakes, then drying in the sun.
The favorite was part of a “local” lunch enjoyed at a resort on the Mekong River Delta, as we watched the skilled staff peeling freshly steamed shrimp and portioning deep fried river fish off of a vertical holder (according to the local superstition, to ensure that our boats would not go sideways and sink), with fresh herbs and greens into the rice paper wrappers.
We would not encourage anyone to try to make rice noodles at home – it’s a real art and a skill – but the wrappers abound at Asian markets, ready for us to make our own wraps at home. Hint: If the “paper” is too dry/papery, just wet your fingers to moisten them back to pliability and off you go.