Lettuce rolls or Huế Rolls is one of the typical dishes in the royal cuisine of Huế, an old Vietnamese capital. The dish is light, stimulating the taste by the fatty taste of the meat, the sweetness of the shrimp. Especially thanks to the lettuce leaves and vermicelli, lettuce rolls have a cool nature that is very suitable to eat on hot days.
Huế lettuce rolls, as their name suggests, are wrapped in lettuce leaves. They are different from southern Spring Rolls which utilize rice papers as the wrapping ingredients. Huế lettuce rolls are similar to the Hanoi’s lettuce rolls but they contain no wine lees, and there is also difference in the dipping sauce.
The original recipe would call for lettuce, but modern chefs often choose mustard greens. For this season, sometimes the dish is translated as “fresh green spring rolls”.
There are 3 things: pork, shrimp and rice vermicelli. Boneless pork loin, ham, chops are common choice, but one may also choose pork belly. Pork belly is gaining more popularity now because of the fatty texture. Fresh shrimps are required and it’s not necessary to use big ones, just small and medium ones are enough. The noodle used is bún, the softest rice noodle in Vietnam, and often found in many other noodle soup dishes.
The dipping sauce is made from diluted fish sauce, with sweet and sour taste, and often served with pickled green papaya or carrots.
Boil the shrimp for 5 minutes, then shell, devein, and cut in half lengthwise. Boil the pork for 20 minutes in water to cover, then remove from the water and slice thinly into 1 x 2-inch pieces.
Remove and discard the heavy part of the stems from the coriander, then cut into 3 crosswise sections. Plunge the scallion greens into boiling water and remove immediately. Cut each lettuce leaf in half through the center vein.
Place, on the narrow end of each piece of lettuce, 1 slice of pork, 1 piece of shrimp, 1 tablespoon of noodles, 2 perilla leaves, and 2 pieces of coriander and roll into a cylinder shape. Tie a scallion green around the center of each lettuce roll to prevent unrolling, then trim each side with a knife to make it look neat and attractive when arranged on a platter.
Heat a sauspan, add 3 tablespoons of cooking oil, add the minced shallots and sauté until they are fragrant. Pour in the minced shrimp and stir fry until the shrimp are cooked. Then pour in the minced lean pork and peanuts, mix everything together. Season with 1 tablespoon fish sauce + 1 teaspoon sugar + some ground pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil again, re-season to taste. In a small bowl, stir a little tapioca flour and cold water, add to the dipping sauce to create a thick texture.