⅓ pound pork shoulder, un trimmed, cut into 2 pieces
12 medium-size raw shrimp, upeeled
8 (12-inch) round rice papers plus extras
1 small head red leaf lettuce, leaves separated and washed
4 oz. dried rice vermicelli (also called rice sticks), boiled 5 minutes, rinsed and drained
1 cup bean sprouts
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup Hoisin-Peanut Sauce
½ cup hoisin sauce
½ cup water
1⁄4 cup coconut milk (optional)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3 Tbsps. puréed or finely chopped yellow onion
1 Tbsp. ground chili paste or to taste
3 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts
1. Preparation: Cook the pork in boiling salted water until it’s done but still firm enough for slicing, about 30 minutes. While the pork is cooking, bring another small pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Rinse under running water and set aside to drain. When they’re cool enough to handle, shell, devein and cut the shrimp in half lengthwise. Refresh in cold water and set aside.
2. Remove the pork from the heat and drain. When it’s cool enough to handle, slice the pork into thin slices, about 1-inch by 2 ½-inches. Place on a small plate and set aside.
3. Set up a salad roll “station.” Line a cutting board with a damp kitchen towel. Fill a large mixing bowl with hot water and place it nearby. (Keep some boiling water handy to add to the bowl.) Arrange the ingredients in the order they will be used: the pork, shrimp, rice vermicelli, bean sprouts, mint and lettuce. Working with 2 rice paper sheets at a time, dip 1 sheet, edge first, in the hot water and turn it to wet completely, about 10 seconds. Lay the sheet down on the towel. Repeat with the other rice paper and place it alongside the first. This allows you to work with one while the second is being set.
4. Line the bottom third of the rice sheet with 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, and top with 2 slices of pork. Add 1 tablespoon rice vermicelli, 1 tablespoon bean sprouts and 4 to 5 mint leaves. (Arrange the ingredients so the rolls will end up being about 5 inches long and 1-inch wide.) Halve a lettuce leaf lengthwise along the center rib. Roll up in 1 piece and place on the filling. (Trim if it’s too long.) While pressing down on the ingredients, fold over the filling then fold in the 2 sides and roll into a cylinder. If the paper feels thick, stop at three-quarters of the way and trim the end piece. (Too much rice paper can make the rolls chewy.) Repeat with the remaining rice papers and filling.
5. To serve, cut the rolls into 2 or 4 pieces and place them upright on a plate. Serve with the sauce on the side.
6. Hoisin-Peanut Sauce:
Combine the hoisin sauce, water, coconut milk, rice vinegar and onions in a small pot over moderate heat. Bring to a boil and while stirring, let the sauce simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. To serve, transfer the sauce to small bowls and garnish with chili paste and chopped peanuts.
Photo: National Peanut Board
Recipe by Mai Pham