Monday, September 21, 2009

Vietnamese nems (with video!)

The beauty of nems, other than their deliciousness, is that they are so versatile. You can use many combinations in the filling. We made vegetarian nems using chickpeas, lentils and tofu. (I hear mung beans are good too.) But you can also use ground pork, chicken or shrimp, add in corn, peas or tarrow root, and even season them with curry. Have fun!

60-80 spring roll wrappers (egg based)
1/4 bag of vermicelli (glass) noodles
4 zucchini, shredded
4-6 carrots, shredded
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cups cooked, cooled lentils
1 lg can chickpeas, drained
1 package firm tofu, crumbled
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Serve with nem sauce, mint leaves and/or green onions, and lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Dry vermicelli noodles

Soak the dried vermicelli noodles in cold water until soft, about 15 minutes. (You can break them if too large for your bowl.)

While the vermicelli soaks, you can grate the carrots and zucchini and whop the onion, placing them in a very, very large bowl, or dividing equally among several large bowls.

Soaked vermicelli

Drain the noodles.

Using kitchen scissors, cut the noodles into pieces about 4 inches long.

Using your hands, mix the noodles with the grated vegetables.

Firm organic tofu

Crumble the tofu, then mix in well. Don't be afraid to get elbow-deep!

Stir in cooked lentils, drained chickpeas, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, mixing well. Taste and add more salt or pepper if needed. When seasoning is good, add one egg (serves as a binder) and mix well. Fun, right? :)

These spring roll wrapper are MUCH easier to use than the rice based papers that have to be soaked individually. Plus, I think these have a much better taste and texture.

A lovely video of our expert showing us how to roll them. Once rolled, stack them on a plate. (Don't worry - they don't stick like the rice paper ones.)

Fry in batches, being careful not to crowd them in the pan. We fried ours on medium-high and it took about 10 minutes per batch. If you use meat, you need to be very careful to fry them long enough to cook through.

Place cooked nems on a plate lined with paper towels and serve hot.

If you want to freeze them, allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. Use wax paper to separate them and place in a freezer bag. To reheat, place frozen nems on a baking sheet and place in the oven as it preheats to 350°. Once oven is hot, cook 5-10 minutes until crispy.


Janey said...

very yummy and so helpful! Our filipino friend makes these, so delicious! So now I can try it myself. Thank you!!

Cheryl said...

WHERE did you find those egg roll wrappers?????
(I'm actually on here looking for my Cassoulet adaptation, but got distracted- go figure!)