This is one of the best Vietnamese "do it
yourself" dishes. You place all the ingredients on the table with the rice
wrappers for everyone to assemble their own rolls. Salad rolls are popular
snack food in Saigon and other towns of the south, where the bo bia (salad
roll) carts come out in the warm weather. Pumpkin, squash, courgette or
aubergine could be used in the filling, and cured Chinese sausage is often
included instead of tofu.
Groundnut (peanut) or sesame oil
Tofu, rinsed and patted dry
Shallots, halved and sliced
Garlic, finely chopped
Pumpkin flesh, cut into strips
Carrot, cut into strips
Green Thai chilies, seeded and finely sliced
Small, crispy lettuce, torn into strips
Fresh basil, stalks removed
Roasted peanuts, chopped
Dried rice wrappers
Nuoc cham (optional), to serve
Heat a heavy pan and smear with a little
oil. Place the block of tofu in the pan and sear on both sides.
Transfer to a plate and cut into thin
Heat 30 ml oil in the pan and stir in the
shallots and garlic. Add the pumpkin and carrot, then pour in the soy
sauce and 120 ml water.
Add a little salt to taste and cook gently
until the vegetables have softened but still have a bite to them.
Meanwhile, arrange the tofu, chilies,
lettuce, basil, roasted peanuts and hoisin sauce in separate dishes and
put them on the table.
Fill a bowl with hot water and place it in
the middle of the table, or fill a small bowl for each person, and place
the stack of rice wrappers beside it.
Tip the cooked vegetable mixture into a
dish and add to the bowls of ingredients on the table.
To eat, take a rice wrapper and dip it in
the water for a few seconds t soften. Lay the wrapper flat on the table
or on a plate and , just off centre, spread a few strips of lettuce,
followed by the pumpkin mixture, some tofu, a sprinkling of chilies, a
drizzle of hoisin sauce, some basil leaves and peanuts, layering the
ingredients in a neat stack.
Pull the shorter edge of the wrapper (the
side with filling on it) up over the stack, tuck in the sides and roll
into a tight cylinder.