They're scrumptious, crispy and addictive! These little popular appetizers, also eaten as a main course, often never make it from the kitchen to the dinner table. I have to admit, the guests aren't the only culprits, the one who cooks them also snatches a couple every now and then while preparing them.
Making them isn't rocket science but it is a learning process. If you refer to one of my old posts on how to make a vietnamese roll, you'll find it's as easy as 1,2,3..4. Your first roll may be a disaster, or so you might think. But as a dear friend of mine would say "Mille fois sur le métier et remettez votre ouvrage", in other words...practice, practice, practice and you'll master roll-making.
You'll notice vietnamese restaurants often use egg-based wrapping, instead of the traditional rice paper, to make imperial rolls, for the simple reason that they're quick to use. There isn't that extra step of soaking to do. For this recipe, I much prefer using the rice paper as I find it crispier, as opposed to crunchier, and it is much more flavourful.
Recipe "au pif":
1 lb lean ground pork (about 500 grams)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup rice vermicelli - transparent ones (cooked 2 min. in boiling water)
1/2 cup shredded crab meat (frozen)
2 1/2 tbps fish sauce
20-25 rice paper sheets
Hot water in large deep plate (to soak rice paper)
Mix all ingredients with your hands, except for rice paper, in a medium sized bowl. Chill in fridge for minimum 30 minutes or overnight.
Take out the pork stuffing and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Take one sheet of rice paper and soak it entirely in hot water for about 2 seconds (in and out). Lay it on a lightly damp towel for about 30 seconds, or until the rice paper is soft.
Put about 1 tbsp of the pork stuffing on the rice paper. Shape the stuffing almost like a rectangle and start rolling as shown here. Press firmly as you roll so that nothing is loose but nice and tight. Repeat with the rest of the rice paper or until there is no more stuffing.
On high, heat vegetable oil in a deep pan, enough so that it just covers the rolls. Slowly put in the rolls in the hot oil (it should sizzle as you put them in - like fries), one at time, and enough so that they don't stick to one another. Don't overcrowd the pan. Fry for about 5-7 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. You know the rolls are ready when you see tiny microscopic bubbles on the wrapping.
Lay the rolls on paper towel on a plate.
Makes 20-25 imperial rolls.
Serve warm and crisp with rice vermicelli - white ones - and "au pif" fish sauce.