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Family Supper Fish Rolls

25 Feb

Like a fish fry, a big grilled fish, tons of veggies and herbs with rice paper rolls is a great way to spend a family Sunday. So fresh, so satisfying, so HEALTHY. Have I mentioned that Vietnamese cooking is healthy? You can eat everything and not feel guilty about it.

Mom and Dad made a run down to the house to give us a poker table Pap Pap (my dad’s dad) made by hand years and years ago. It was pretty cool to hear stories of nickle, dime, quarter poker games being held at my Dad’s childhood home with local police and other folks. He said the cops always took off their guns and left them on the pool table. Safety first, you know.

Anyways. I wanted to make something that they would enjoy but would also fit with Mom’s diet as she’s counting down to fabulous for our wedding day.

Bánh tráng cuốn cá, Rice Paper Rolls with Fish, was a perfect choice. The only ‘cooking’ required is to toss the fish on the grill. My parents aren’t quite sure about fish sauce just yet, so I wanted to fragrance the fish in case they ate the rolls plain and stuffed the fish with a lemongrass stalk and a few slices of lime. This is totally optional.

Rockfish with lemongrass and lime

Wrap well in foil and put on the grill for 20 – 30 minutes. You don’t need to flip it. You can also broil the fish in the oven, which results in a crispier skin. Also tasty.

Meanwhile, we snacked on clams steamed in water and a little beer. We like to dip in an easy and flavor-packed sauce of the juice of 2 limes, and 2 teaspoons each salt, sugar and pepper. The spices and juice will be a kind of slurry. This is also amazing with crabs.

Lime dipping sauce

Clams and dipping sauces

After our appetizers Thuan made fried rice to go with our fish rolls. His secret is no soy sauce, very little oil This seems counter-intuitive for fried rice, but it makes for fluffy and flavorful rice.

Chinese sausage and vegetable fried rice ingredientsChinese Sausage Fried Rice

3 Chinese Sausages (pork and chicken) sliced

Green onions, carrot and white onion chopped (as much or little as you like), frozen peas

3 eggs

2 tbs cooking oil

Pot of cooked rice

In a wok, heat 2 tbs oil and add sausage to begin to caramelize. Add onions and cook until translucent. Toss in the rest of your vegetables and stir to combine.

Now add the rice and mix ingredients well. Pour scrambled eggs and stir to mix and cook through.

You can add a few dashes of soy sauce when you eat, but you won’t need much.

By now, our fish was fully cooked and we’re ready to eat! Look at this buddy:

Grilled rockfish

Here’s what we assembled:

Bánh tráng cuốn cá

Whole grilled rockfish

Fresh herbs: Thai Basil, Cilantro, Mint, Lettuce, tia to (red perilla), rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), culantro (long, saw edged herb)

Cucumbers sliced in strips

Bean sprouts

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce – 1/4 cup each fish sauce and water, 1 lime juiced, 2 – 3 tbs sugar, 2 cloves minced garlic)

Vermicelli noodles – prepare ahead of time and set aside to drain and dry well

Rice paper rolls and water to moisten

Grilled fish and rice paper rolls

Mom patiently waits for the dinner bell.

The great thing about this meal is you can add whatever flavors you like. First take a rice paper and dip in a bowl of water, spinning it around to get the entire surface wet. Don’t leave in there until floppy, the water will soak in and soften the rice paper roll after you set it on your plate.

Here’s one of my rolls, and you can see I forgot to make those vermicelli noodles. Oh well.

Fish and herbs in rice paper roll

Layered and ready to roll

With a little practice, you can roll these guys nice and tight. If you punch through the rice paper, wet another one and do a double roll. Kind of like those Taco Bell double decker tacos wrapped in a soft taco shell. Mmmmm, fourth meal…but I digress.

Grilled fish and herb rice paper roll

See? Packed with goodness. Without vermicelli noodles, I think three or four was my limit. With noodles, I usually eat fewer.

Dad’s first attempt is a little loose, but all in all a success!

Dad showing off his first roll

Mom’s a pro. Look at that technique! Everyone does it differently, but I’ve found it easiest to arrange your fillings off to one side and towards the top. Fold in the bottom, as Mom demonstrates below, and then roll from the side – pulling the fillings in tighter as you go.

Mom making her fish roll

And there you have it – fresh grilled fish rice paper rolls. Perfect Sunday supper to share with your family or friends.

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