As someone who enjoys cooking, one of my greatest dreams has always been to have a home garden. I always imagine myself stepping out through the kitchen door and into a backyard to pick some tomatoes, maybe some fat juicy bell peppers.
It would be nice to be able to just pluck a piece of lettuce from the ground for a salad, and while we’re at it, let’s add some carrots and cucumbers too. This level of fresh ingredients is like every cook’s dream! (Can’t wait for these baby lemons to ripen!)
I experienced some time ago what it was like to have fresh herbs out in our terrace. It seems like potted herbs are the only things that stand a chance here in Manila, and for a while the plant really thrived. It got so big that we had to trim it down and plant another pot.
It was an amazing feeling, being able to just go out onto the terrace and pluck leaf after leaf, adding the basil to pastas or pizzas, and even basil ice cream! Unfortunately as the season started to change into this dreary rainy season, our basil didn’t do so well anymore.
I suppose you could say this Vietnamese Spring Rolls recipe I’m sharing today is an ode to our basil plant. Not only is it an easy classic recipe, but it’s got a lot of veggies in it that make it healthy and light. Using fresh ingredients in any dish is important, and I always take painstaking effort in highlighting them in my photos.
When I used the Huawei P9 to take photos for this post, my goal was the same as always: capture images that will motivate anybody who sees to get in the kitchen and make something. I know that the eyes are the windows to the appetite, so I like to take it a step further by showing how a dish comes together from start to finish. It’s like a gradual journey for the reader that ends with the tummy rumbling!
Truly, food photography can change the way we see cookery and baking. That’s one of the aspects I love the most when it comes to food blogging. It’s no wonder I appreciate the Huawei P9 so much– it helps me share my thoughts and ideas about food through beautiful images. With these spring rolls specifically, I wanted to evoke a sense of fresh deliciousness with the Huawei P9’s help.
I can’t begin to tell you how easy these are! The best part is that you don’t really need to do much cooking, but it’s important that you use good ingredients to fill your rolls.
The equation to this Vietnamese Spring Rolls recipe was something my mom learned when she visited Vietnam recently. Basically you’ll need rice wrappers, basil, and rice noodles, plus any assortment of meat and additional vegetables you desire. Since I really enjoy my Spring Rolls with shrimp, I prepared some fresh shrimp using the halabos method. I simply cooked the shrimp still inside its shell in a little bit of simmering water. After letting it cool, it’s only a matter of peeling and slicing.
I really don’t think there’s a set of rules for spring roll fillings, but the combination that was taught to my Mom in Vietnam was shrimp and thinly sliced pork. In this case I wanted to go seafood all the way so I used kani in place of pork. (But you can basically use any meat, or even leftover chicken barbecue as I did with some of my rolls.) Plus in using shrimp and kani, I thought the colours would be really nice, contrasting against all the green veggies and the white rice noodles.
The same goes for the carrots. I liked how the orange stood out from behind the translucent rice paper, and paired with cucumbers they really added some crunch to the spring rolls. (Speaking of crunch, you can also add some chopped peanuts into your rolls.)
The basil of course adds the beautiful and exotic scent, while the rice noodles help fill up your tummy. That little chive peeking from the top is not only for decoration (although it looks so pretty doesn’t it?) but it adds a little earthy tone to the rolls– in both looks and taste!
Vietnamese Spring Rolls need to be eaten with a dip of course, and below I’ve shared two options. One is the typical spicy peanut sauce usually served in local Vietnamese places, and the other is a tangy fish sauce-based dip. I actually like the fish sauce dip better, but you can absolutely make both!
Another thing I decided to eat my rolls with is a side of Vietnamese Papaya Salad. For the salad dressing, I used a calamansi-based dressing that I would say is one of my all-time favourites. When times comes for me to start a garden, calamansi is one of the first things I will plant so I can make this dressing forever! I have a special love for any cuisine that uses calamansi to great effect.
I have to say, this pairing– from the lovely and light spring rolls to the tangy salad– make a simple but gloriously fresh meal!
- 4 pcs rice paper
- 8 pcs cooked shrimp
- 4 pcs kani or other meat
- 16 pcs Vietnamese basil leaves (more or less depending on size of basil)
- 50 grams fresh rice noodles, cooked in hot water
- Carrots, cucumber, or other vegetable, julienned
- 4 stalks of chives
- 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon peanut butter (smooth or crunchy is fine)
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon minced chilli or Sriracha chilli sauce
- Chopped peanuts (optional but good)
- 1. Place rice papers on a flat surface and brush all over with water using your knuckles. The goal is to soften the rice paper just a bit with the water, but don't overdo it! Stop once you've brushed the whole surface of the rice paper or it will stick to your surface.
- 2. Divide the filling ingredients into 4 portions. Arrange the first set of filling neatly on the lower portion of the rice paper, just below the center so it won't be so difficult to roll. If you want the shrimp/kani to show more clearly on the outside of the rice paper, place it on the bottom of the stack before you add the rest of the filling. Top with basil leaves and the other veggies.
- 3. Fold the bottom part of the rice wrapper over the filling tightly but gently. (It should cover the filling entirely.) Holding in the filling, fold the 2 sides over to seal the filling inside. Roll forward once and insert chive, allowing it to peek out through one end. Finish rolling all the way through. Repeat with remaining rolls.
- 4. In a small bowl, mix hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and water together until well-combined.
- 5. Add in the minced garlic and the chilli/chilli sauce, mix again. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.
- Here's an alternate dipping sauce for those who prefer something tangier and lighter: Mix together 1 Tablespoon each fish sauce, calamansi juice, sugar, water, and 1 teaspoon chilli sauce. Personally this is my favourite!
I was so impressed by the performance of the Huawei P9 when I shot the photos for this post. The Leica dual cameras work wonders! The colours are vibrant and do a great job showing off the beauty of the food. The camera is easy to use; and when switched to PRO mode, it offered incredible freedom to adjust the ISO, exposure, and even the depth of field. I’ve got more pictures on my Instagram using the Huawei P9 you might want to check out!
Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by Huawei Philippines. All photos in this post were shot with the Huawei P9.