This dish is a fun and easy way to serve spring rolls: Have your guests roll their own at the table. It fits in well with the communal spirit in Vietnam, where it is often prepared when entertaining guests at home. This recipe also works well with barbecued snapper. — Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl, authors of Made in Vietnam
- 2 green bananas
- 1 carambola (star fruit), sliced lengthways into 5-millimeter (1/4-inch) strips
- 1 pineapple, not too ripe, peeled and cut into 5-centimeter (2-inch) batons
- 1/3 Cup roasted unsalted peanuts
- Between 1 pound 5 ounces and 1 pound 9 ounces snapper, gutted
- Rice flour, for dusting
- Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1 handful cilantro, to serve
- 1 handful dill, to serve
- 1 Pound 5 ounces dried rice vermicelli, to serve
- 18 rice paper sheets, about 18 centimeters (7 inches) in size, to serve
- Classic Dipping Sauce (see below), to serve
For the classic dipping sauce:
- 3 1/2 fluid ounces lime juice
- 1 Teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 1/4 Cup fish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 long red chile, finely chopped
Using a sharp knife, peel the outer layer of skin from each banana, leaving on a thin layer of the skin for texture. Cut the banana into thin strips and arrange on a platter with the carambola, pineapple, and peanuts.
Rinse the fish in a bowl filled with salted water. Check for and remove any scales. Using kitchen scissors, cut off the fins and trim the tail. Dry the fish thoroughly with paper towel.
For the fish to cook evenly, make three cuts, about 1 centimeter (1/2 inch) deep, on each side. Dust the fish in the rice flour and shake off any excess flour.
Heat about 13 cm (5 inches) of oil in a wok or saucepan. To test the oil, place the tip of a wooden chopstick into the oil — when bubbles slowly rise to the surface, the oil is hot enough to use. Carefully slide the fish in and fry for 8–10 minutes, until the flesh is cooked through and the skin is golden and crisp. Remove and drain well on paper towel. Place the fish on a platter and top with the coriander and dill.
Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 4–5 minutes. Gently stir to separate the noodles, then drain and refresh under cold water. Use kitchen scissors to cut the vermicelli into easy-to-manage lengths.
Soften the rice paper sheets by dipping them one at a time into warm water for 1 second. Do not soak the sheets as they will become too soft and tear when rolled. Place on a flat surface, wait for 20 seconds, and then soak up any excess water with a clean cloth.
Invite your guests to take a sheet of the rice paper and top with the fish, noodles, herbs, fruit and peanuts, before rolling up into a spring roll and enjoying with the dipping sauce.
For the classic dipping sauce:
Combine the lime juice, vinegar, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Stir in the fish sauce, garlic, and chile and divide among six dipping bowls.
Recipe adapted from Made in Vietnam: Homestyle Recipes From Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh by Tracey Lister and Andreas Pohl (Hardie Grant, 2017)