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There are two ways to do this. I was making these last night, for my wonderful friend Elsie’s 21st birthday dinner. Having made the filling, and waiting for water to heat to start making the rolls, I (of course) sampled it and realised that (a) it was delicious, and (b) that it would make an amazing salad. I love rice paper rolls, however, they are very time consuming and fiddly to make. If you have time, and preferably a friend to make them with, then they are a lot of fun. There is nothing like dipping a crisp sheet of rice paper into boiling water, and seeing it turn into a translucent epidermis in a few seconds. The final result is equally exciting. These are fresh, easy to eat, and beautiful to look at.

If you don’t have the time, you can capture the taste and freshness of these rolls in a salad. The mixture is lovely – coriander, crisp lettuce, the bite of lemon, perfectly balanced by the sesame oil and soy sauce. Serve it next to a thai curry, or a spicy stir fry. In terms of the rolls, last night I served them as an appetiser before the dinner. I have also made them to take on a picnic, and as party finger food. They are very adaptable, and always please and delight. I would recommend serving the rolls with a dipping sauce, such as sweet chili sauce.

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls, or Rice Noodle Salad (makes 23 rolls)

1 large carrot

1 bunch coriander/cilantro

3/4 iceberg lettuce

50g rice noodles

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Rice paper sheets

Grate the carrot and finely chop the coriander. Remove the outer leaves from the lettuce and finely slice the rest. Boil the rice noodles until tender, and chop roughly into short length. Combine all of these in a bowl and toss. Mix the lemon juice, sesame oil and soy sauce, shake to combine, and mix through the salad, ensuring all the parts are coated. If serving as a salad, you are done.

To make the rolls, fill a shallow bowl with boiling water. Dip a sheet of rice paper in it, and soak until it is no longer rigid. Remove it, shake it slightly to dry, and lay on another plate. Put a few tablespoons of the mixture onto the middle of the roll, and fold the rice paper over it. Tuck in the sides, then roll it up. Place this on a dry plate, and repeat for the other rolls. Serve with a dipping sauce, such as sweet chili sauce.

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