Vietnamese Jicama and Carrot Spring Rolls (Goi Cuon Bo Bia)
Temperatures in the San Francisco Bay Area are dipping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night and I feel like my limbs are going to fall off. I'm a petite woman so I get cold easily. I'm currently wearing two layers of pants, a pair of thick Christmas socks, and an oversized wool robe. Yet I still feel my bones aching from the cold. To ease the chilly nights, I go to my kids' room and wedge myself in between them while they are sleeping. Nothing validates children more than using them as little warmers.
Must. Think. Of. Warm. Thoughts. Vietnamese spring roll gets me feeling warm and fuzzy all over again as they are mostly eaten during the Summer time when fresh herbs and vegetables are abundantly and inexpensively available.
Vietnamese Jicama and Carrot Springs Rolls, or Goi Cuon Bo Bia, is a refreshing and healthy traditional Vietnamese appetizer and snack. It is rice paper wrapped around julienned jicamas and carrots, Chinese sausages, dried shrimp, ribbons of fried eggs and Thai basil. The bulk of these spring rolls are the jicamas. Jicamas don't taste like anything. It simply takes up the flavors of the other ingredients and provides a nice crunch.
I love the taste of the Thai basil in these spring rolls. It provides a lovely aroma and a sharp contrasting flavor. Some Vietnamese restaurants replace the Thai basil with lettuce as a cheaper alternative and as a way to make the rolls appear more voluminous. I hate it when they do that. You can add lettuce to these spring rolls, but don't exclude the Thai basil! It just doesn't taste the same without them. Also, don't exclude the dried shrimp. The toasted dried shrimp provides the bulk of the flavor. I have lured people to the kitchen from just the smell of the toasted dried shrimp. The umami smell of toasted dried shrimp, fried with shallots, is amazing.
The sauce for these spring rolls is a sweet and thick peanut sauce with fried garlic and topped with toasted crunchy toasted peanuts. For a spicy kick, I like to add Sriracha or Sambal chili sauce. The peanut sauce can be added inside the spring rolls or served on the side. I prefer mine on the side. I love using the spring rolls to scoop up heaping mounds of sauce at the beginning of each bite. It's just the way I roll.
Vietnamese Jicama and Carrot Spring Rolls Recipe (Goi Cuon Bo Bia)
2 small sized jicamas (cut into matchsticks)
1 medium size carrot (cut into matchsticks)
5 Chinese sausages (boil for 5 minutes, remove from water, then slice thin at a diagonal)
4 large shallots (peel and slice thin)
1/2 cup of dried shrimp (soak in warm water for 15 minutes then rinse)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 small bunch of basil (remove leaves from stems and julienne leaves into thin strips)
1 small bunch of red leaf lettuce
1 pack spring roll rice paper
Vegetable oil for frying
Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk vigorously for 1 minute until well combined.
In a large flat skillet, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and heat on medium high. You will probably need to cook in batches. Add a small amount of whisked egg to the skillet. Swirl the skillet so that the eggs spread thinly and evenly. Cook until the eggs are no longer runny. There's no need to flip. When fully cooked, gently roll up the eggs tightly like a burrito. Slide the rolled egg off the skillet onto a plate then slice into thin ribbons. Repeat.
In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the shallots and fry until they turn a light brown.
Add the dried shrimp and evenly toss until nicely toasted (about 3-5 minutes).
Add the jicamas, carrots, and salt. Toss until cooked and limp (about 5-10 minutes). Remove from skillet and set aside.
To assemble, wet the rice paper in water. Transfer wet rice paper onto a plate.
Add the jicama, carrot and dried shrimp mixture along one end of the rice paper.
Add a leaf or two of lettuce, a generous sprinkle of julienned basil leaves, a few ribbons of fried eggs and a couple slices of Chinese sausages.
Roll everything up midway, fold the ends of rice paper in, then roll the rest of the way.
Serve with peanut sauce.