We never go to a Vietnamese restaurant without ordering spring rolls. Between Pho Hoa and Pho Bac, I prefer the latter’s spring rolls. Apart from that though, my vote goes to Pho Hoa all the way. It’s always been my dream to make Vietnamese spring rolls at home but it wasn’t easy getting hold of rice spring roll wrappers. Quite recently, they started making an appearance in bigger supermarkets. I suppose that signals how popular Vietnamese cooking has become in the Philippines. The Landmark at TriNoma and Shopwise Libis both sell rice spring roll wrappers. The rest of the ingredients mung bean sprouts, carrot, beef, rice noodles, and onion leaves are easily available in any supermarket or wet market.
Soak the noodles in hot water until soft. Depending on the quality of the noodles, boiling for a few minutes may be required. Just rinse them afterward then dump them in ice water to prevent them from turning soggy. Cut into two-inch lengths. Use a vegetable peeler to shred the carrot into very thin strips. Cut the onion leaves (finely or into one or two-in strips, your choice). Wash and pat dry the lemon basil, cilantro, and mint leaves. Blanch the carrot strips and the bean sprouts (separately) in boiling water for about a minute, drain, rinse, dump in a bowl of ice water, toss until cool, and drain well.
To simplify the procedure, I prefer to place the noodles, bean sprouts, and onion leaves in a bowl, and season them lightly with patis (fish sauce). Soak the rice spring roll wrapper in water until soft; it only takes about ten seconds. Take the spring roll wrapper, shake off excess water, and lay it flat on a dry surface. A wooden chopping board works great for this purpose. Place about two tablespoonfuls of the noodle-bean sprout mixture across the middle of the wrapper. Top with a few slices of carrot and beef.
Take the edge nearest you and fold to cover the filling. Take the side edges and fold them in. Roll outward to seal. Arrange the spring rolls on a plate, top with more onion leaves, and serve with fish sauce (nuoc cham) and peanut sauce. To make the peanut sauce, mix 2 tablespoonfuls of patis, 1/4 cup of hoisin sauce, 1 tablespoonful of tamarind paste (you can substitute mild vinegar), 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter, and 1/2 cup of hot water. Add more hot water for a thinner sauce.