Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls - Nem Nuong with Instant Rice Paper Sheets
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Traditional Vietnamese BBQ pork (nem nuong) is a wildly popular rice paper roll filling in Vietnamese street food and in Vietnamese homes. Its sweet, sticky and succulent flavours bode well when encased in Vietnamese herbs and rolled in textural banh trang sieu mong (instant rice paper sheets), and dipped in a decadent and addictive Vietnamese peanut dipping sauce. This is a Vietnamese rice paper roll that demands multiple textures to create the perfect bite.
Rice paper rolls with nem nuong or heo quay (Vietnamese crispy pork) was always a treat growing up and usually a result of leftover nem nuong from a typical Vietnamese BBQ. We would repurpose leftover nem nuong from the day before to either make a scrumptious banh mi (Vietnamese bread roll), refreshing Vietnamese noodle salads or this dish.
To create the perfect nem nuong rice paper roll experience, a choice of two sauces, the use of instant rice paper sheets and sound rice paper rolling technique is critical. Vietnamese peanut sauce adds a sweet and savoury aspect to the cold roll but a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce (nuoc mam) offers a sweet and zesty finish. Choose the one that fits your flavour preference or alternate between the rolls!
Instant rice paper sheets add an additional crisp and chewy texture. Unlike standard rice paper sheets, instant rice paper sheets do not require dipping in water but will soften at any exposure to moisture the washed herbs, meat juices and dipping sauce. The icing on the cake is that they are easy to roll (much like a taco) and don’t stick to your hands. Because of this they are my preferred Vietnamese rice paper option.
The best tip for rolling rice paper rolls when using instant rice paper sheets is to not overload with the filling—always put in half what you think you need. Roll tightly (as you would a sleeping bag!), while constantly pulling back and tucking in, with a firm but gentle pressure. See my <‘Vietnamese BBQ Pork Rice Paper Rolls’ YouTube video> for more tips.
If rice paper rolls are popular in your household, do yourself a favour and stock your pantry with our instant rice paper sheets and anchovy salt to devour the delicious flavours this rice paper roll variation has to offer.
Vietnamese BBQ Pork (Nem Nuong):
1 kg pork mince
1½ teaspoons anchovy salt
1 tablespoon premium fish sauce
4½ tablespoons sugar
6 cloves garlic, crushed
100g pork fat, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons hot water
Vietnamese peanut sauce:
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
4½ tablespoons peanut butter
2½ tablespoon sugar
Spring onion oil:
½ bunch spring onions finely chopped
¼ teaspoon anchovy salt
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
30ml neutral cooking oil
Rice paper rolls:
90–120g Instant rice paper sheets or rice paper sheets
1 bunch Vietnamese/cos lettuce
2 Lebanese cucumbers, cut into 5–6 cm batons
1 bunch mint
1 bunch coriander
1 bunch Vietnamese perilla (optional)
1 bunch Vietnamese fish herb (optional)
1 bunch garlic chives (optional)
How to make nem nuong:
1. In a large bowl mix all BBQ Pork ingredients and combine well with your hands. Hand mix vigorously for 5 minutes or until mixture becomes sticky. If you have a hand-mixer, mix on medium to high until the mixture appears sticky.
Duncan’s tip: Mixing until the meat mixture is sticky activates the pork’s proteins and gives the BBQ pork it’s iconic springy texture.
2. Add pork fat and combine well then place mixture in the fridge for two hours or for best results, overnight.
3. Soak bamboo skewers in water for 1 hour.
4. In a small mixing bowl combine honey and hot water then set aside.
How to cook nem nuong in oven:
1. Pre-heat oven to 180C.
2. Place skewers on an oven tray lined with baking paper then into oven for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through.
3. Remove nem nuong from oven and generously brush honey mixture onto nem nuong. Return to oven at 200C for 5 minutes or until golden.
Duncan’s tip: Allow nem nuong to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
How to cook nem nuong in air fryer:
1. Place skewers in air fryer lined with baking paper at 200C for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through.
2. Baste nem nuong with honey mixture then return to air fryer for 5 minutes then remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
How to cook nem nuong over charcoal:
2. Place skewers onto grill over indirect heat for 15 minutes, occasionally turning.
2. Baste nem nuong with honey mixture then place over direct heat and grill for 3–5 minutes or until golden.
How to make peanut sauce:
1. In a small saucepan, add all peanut sauce ingredients and heat on medium until it bubbles. Stir well until well combined, use a stick blender if required. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
How to make spring onion oil:
1. In a small bowl, add salt and sugar to finely chopped spring onions, and mix well.
2. In a small pot or milk pan, bring 30ml cooking oil to smoking point.
3. Carefully pour oil onto the spring onions, mix well and set aside.
4. Garnish BBQ pork with half the spring onion oil.
How to make rice paper rolls:
1. Prepare or boil fine rice vermicelli cakes or thin rice vermicelli noodles according to packet instructions.
Duncan’s tip: If using the noodles from our online store, boil in lightly salted water for 7–8 minutes.
2. Place an instant rice paper sheet vertically on a medium plate. Add a piece of lettuce, a piece of fine rice vermicelli cake or some vermicelli noodles, cucumber, a selection of herbs, a few pieces of nem nuong then roll up into an open-ended cigar with firm pressure
Duncan’s tip: Adding too many ingredients can increase the size of your rice paper roll making it difficult to consume.
3. Generously dip into peanut sauce or alternatively some nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce dipping sauce).
4. If using standard rice paper sheets that require water-dipping, dip in cold water for 10 seconds, then add as stated above towards the bottom of the rice paper sheet. Roll over twice away from you then fold in both ends and roll until rice paper roll is sealed.
Duncan’s tip: Roll rice paper rolls with firm but gentle pressure, like cradling a bird you want to apply enough pressure that the bird doesn’t fly away but not too much pressure that you could hurt the bird.