One of the things that surprises me about Johannesburg’s food scene is that it is far easier to find Vietnamese food here than it ever was in London. I don’t pretend to understand why – there doesn’t seem to be a particularly large Vietnamese community here – but I am certainly not complaining. Vietnamese happens to be one of my favourite cuisines.
Vietnamese is to Thai what Thai cuisine is to Chinese food: a more subtle, fragrant, aromatic version. One of my favourite Vietnamese dishes is these fresh spring rolls which are so much more tasty and of course healthier than their deep fried cousins. Perfect for 5:2 diet days.
This recipe is adapted from the October issue of Taste magazine. The original recipe featured a pomegranate and rosewater dipping sauce which contained vinegar and was much too acidic for my taste. After some experimentation I came up with my own version which is based on the traditional Vietnamese accompaniment of nuoc cham.
I was surprised to find that the rosewater and fish sauce did actually complement each other but you could omit the rosewater and pomegranate concentrate for a traditional nuoc cham.
Each spring roll contains roughly 75 calories and a quarter portion of the dipping sauce approximately 25 calories. A packet of rice paper wrappers is a great investment for 5:2 dieters as you can fill them with all manner of lean protein, fruit and veg and the wrappers themselves are only 35 calories a piece. You should be able to find them in any good oriental food store.
Prawn and Strawberry Crystal Spring Rolls with a Pomegranate and Rosewater Dipping Sauce (adapted from Taste magazine)
- 24 cooked, shelled prawns
- 100g asparagus
- 100g strawberries
- fresh mint, basil and/or coriander leaves
- rice paper wrappers
For the dipping sauce:
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp pomegranate concentrate/molasses (or tamarind water or lime juice)
- 1 tbsp rosewater
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1. Halve the prawns lengthways. Blanch the asparagus for 1 minute in boiling water then plunge into cold water. Cut each spear in half then finely slice the strawberries.
2. Soak one rice paper wrapper in a bowl of warm water until softened. Lay the wrapper on a plate or chopping board and place some prawns, asparagus, strawberries and fresh herbs in a line across the middle of the wrapper (leaving a gap at either edge). Fold the bottom of the wrapper up and over the filling, then fold in each side before rolling up into a spring roll.
3. Repeat with the remaining wrappers.
4. Mix all the ingredients for the dipping sauce together and serve with the spring rolls.