Happy Memorial Day weekend! I have a sister now serving in Iraq as well as cousins in the military and I know they miss home made Vietnamese food dearly! We send them pho instant noodles when we can but I know she loves nem nuong cuon so this is a tribute to her and all the men and women in the military service protecting our country and freedom. May God bless and bring them home safely.
Last week, we posted our nem nuong recipe and emphasized its versatility and used it for nem nuong sliders and bun nem nuong and banh mi nem nuong. Our other favorite way to eat nem nuong is nem nuong cuon (spring rolls with grilled pork patties). This is a an amazingly fresh way to enjoy the grilled pork and all you have to add are spring roll wrappers, fresh herbs, and optional fried egg roll wrapper for a delcious crunch. Now you know why we always have nem nuong in our freezer–delicious and refreshing nem nuong cuon can be made in no time.
You can roll your nem any way you like, but this is how we roll:
A piece of cake isn’t it?
Nem Nuong Cuon Spring Rolls with Grilled Pork Patties
2 lbs. ground pork
2 heads of garlic (cloves, peeled; use more or less according to taste)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tbs salt
1/2 tbs pepper
4 tsp or 1 small package of Alsa baking powder (single acting)
1/4 cup water
1 drop red food coloring or 1 tsp caramel syrup (optional and found in most asian groceries or make your own)
For the Nem Nuong Cuon
1 package of rice paper wrapper (we love the 3 bamboo brand)
Fried egg roll wrappers
cucumbers, thinly sliced rectangles (about 1 x 3 inches)
pickled carrots and daikon
mint (rau thom)
chives (rau he)
basil (rau que)
perilla (tia to)
Nuoc mam cham
For Fried Egg Roll Wrappers
5 square egg roll wrappers, quartered
1 bunch of green onion or chives, cut same size as egg roll squares
For Nem Nuong: Using food processor, process garlic until fine puree. Combine pork, garlic, salt, pepper and sugar in mixing bowl and mix well. In separate bowl, combine baking powder, water, drop of red food coloring or caramel syrup (this adds a very nice color to the pork when grilled) and stir. Mixture will fluff and foam.
Fold the baking powder into mixture and allow meat to chill for about 30 min to 1 hr or longer--the baking powder adds more firmer, bouncier texture. Now you're ready to form the patties. Keep meat mixture in the fridge for a few hours to let it set and easier to handle when forming patties, balls or what I prefer, mini sausages. We find that it's easier to roll in rice paper this way. Keep a bowl of water handy and your hands wet for easy handling.
Grill about 4-5 min per side. If you plan to grill on an outdoor grill, form patties around the skewer like a kebab.
For Nem Nuong Cuon:Have all your mis en place of veggies and nem nuong ready. Dip rice paper in luke warm water and place on plate. Wait about 10s or until paper softens to start rolling. First place the lettuce, then cucumber, fried chive roll, and pickled carrots and daikon near the edge of the rice paper closest to you. Roll rice paper over veggies and then fold over each end. Then place some fresh chives and nem nuong and roll tightly. Do not overstuff, you're not making a burrito! Use nuoc mam pha as a dipping sauce.
Fried Egg Roll Wrappers:
Quarter large egg roll wrappers. You can optionally place several chives or green onions onto wrapper, roll once and then fold over ends. Roll tightly and use an egg wash to seal the wrapper. Fry until golden brown, drain and set aside.