Life Eat & Drink Dish of the day: Chilli beef rice paper rolls

Dish of the day: Chilli beef rice paper rolls

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Lemongrass and chilli beef rice paper rolls

Serves 4-6


  • 80 g (23/ 4 oz) rice vermicelli noodles
  • 400 g (14 oz) piece of untrimmed beef sirloin
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons finely diced lemongrass, white part only
  • 2 red bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 18 dried round rice paper sheets, about
  • 22 cm (83/ 4 inches) in diameter
  • 1 bunch perilla, leaves picked
  • 1 bunch mint, leaves picked
  • 75 g (23/ 4 oz/1 cup) shredded iceberg lettuce
  • Nuoc mam cham dipping sauce to serve

Pickled vegetables

  • 375 ml (121/ 2 fl oz/11/ 2 cups) white vinegar
  • 220 g (8 oz/1 cup) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 12 carrot batons
  • 12 daikon batons
  • 12 celery batons
  • 12 cucumber batons

Nuoc Mam Cham dipping sauce
Makes about 250 ml (81/2 fl oz/1 cup)


  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice


Put the fish sauce, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan with 125 ml (4 fl oz/1/ 2 cup) water. Place over medium heat, stir well and cook until just before boiling point is reached. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.

Just before serving, stir in the garlic, chilli and lime juice.

Store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.


To pickle the vegetables, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Stir well and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Put the vegetables in a clean container and pour the cooled pickling liquid over to completely submerge the vegetables. Cover with a lid and leave to pickle for 3 ¬days before using.

Add the noodles to a saucepan of boiling water and bring back to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow the noodles to stand in the water for a further 5 minutes. Strain and rinse under cold water, then leave to dry. It is best to have the vermicelli cooked and strained for at least 30¬ minutes prior to rolling, to allow the noodles to dry a little and stick together.
Remove the fat and sinew from the beef, then cut the fillet into 24 slices about 3 ¬mm thick. (Placing the beef in the freezer briefly makes it easier to slice thinly.) Set aside.

Heat the oil in a hot wok until smoking. Add the lemongrass, chilli and garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the beef and stir-fry for 2¬ minutes, then add the fish sauce and continue to cook until the sauce has evaporated. Remove the beef from the wok and allow to cool to room temperature.
To assemble the rolls, cut six of the rice paper sheets in half. Fill a large bowl with warm water and dip one whole rice paper sheet in the water until it softens. Shake off any excess water and lay the rice paper sheet flat on a plate. Dip a half sheet of rice paper in the water and lay it vertically in the middle of the round sheet. This will strengthen the roll, so the filling doesn’t break through.

In the middle of the rice paper, place two large perilla leaves in a horizontal line, about 4 cm from the top. Below the perilla add two mint leaves, two slices of the beef, 1 baton of each pickled vegetable, some lettuce and noodles.

To form the rolls, first fold the sides into the centre, over the filling, then the bottom of the paper up and over. Roll from bottom to top, forming a tight roll. Serve with the nuoc mam cham.

Recipe courtesy of

This recipe first appeared in The Food of Vietnam by Luke Nguyen ($69.95).


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