A casual Vietnamese restaurant, Pho Yum, opened not too far from us just about a year ago. It’s a nice spot for a quick lunch. It’s also (as far as I know) the only place in the area to get banh mi. Really though, we go for the summer rolls with nem nuong (grilled pork sausage). It’s the kind of dish that immediately puts a smile on your face and makes you relax in your chair. The sausage is delicate and has a subtle sweetness that’s unlike anything else I’ve had. We split an order every time we go; every single time, I say that I need to get around to making them at home. (I finally did, only to find that my camera battery had died. The photos in this post were taken with my phone.)
Summer rolls are the perfect light meal in this stifling heat. They’re similar to Chinese egg rolls/spring rolls, but are eaten raw instead of fried. They’re stuffed with thin noodles, fresh herbs, raw vegetables, and, optionally, a (cooked) protein like shrimp or sausage.
In my attempt to recreate the restaurant version, I made my own sausage. A google search resulted in tons of recipes, so I mixed and matched to get something that seemed right. The sausages themselves were really easy to make and tasted phenomenal. My version was a little milder than what I had originally hoped for, but I’ll definitely make them again.
The assembly of the spring rolls themselves, on the other hand, is kind of a pain in the butt. It’s easy enough to do, but kind of time-consuming. It’s definitely a good idea to recruit someone to help assemble them. Or, serve this dinner “taco night style” by settling out the individual components and letting everyone put together their own plate.
- 3 Tablespoons Short Grain Rice (like Sushi rice or Arborio rice)
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Water
- 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 pound Lean Ground Pork
- 6 ounces Rice Stick Noodles
- 1 Lime
- 3 Carrots, cut into very thin sticks
- 1 Cucumber, peeled and cut into very thin sticks
- 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
- 1 package Spring Roll Wrappers
- Romaine Lettuce
- Fresh Basil and Fresh Cilantro
- 4 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Pineapple Juice
- 1 teaspoon Chopped Peanuts
- In a small pan set over high heat toast rice 3 minutes, or until lightly golden. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind into a fine powder.
- Combine the garlic, baking powder, water, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Place the pork in a large bowl. Add the contents of the small bowl and 1 Tablespoon of the rice powder. Use your hands to knead the mixture until all of the ingredients ar combined.
- Use a teaspoon to shape the meat into small balls. (If necessary, refrigerate for 10 minutes to help the mixture firm up.) Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Add the sausage balls and cook 5 minutes, turning once, or until cooked through and slightly browned.
- While the sausage cooks, prepare the noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and squeeze the lime over them. Add the carrot, cucumber, and vinegar to a small dish and allow to marinate.
- To assemble the summer rolls, dip a spring roll wrapper into warm water for 5 seconds or until it becomes pliable. Add about 1 Tablespoon noodles and 2 or 3 pieces of sausage to the bottom of the wrapper. Top with carrot, cucumber, romaine, basil, and cilantro. Fold the bottom of the wrapper around the fillings. Fold the ends in, then tightly rolls up. Keep covered with a damp cloth until ready to eat.
- To make the dipping sauce, whisk together the hoisin sauce and pineapple juice. Top with chopped peanuts.