Summer rolls & nuoc cham sauce
I’m not sure anyone really needs a recipe for summer rolls, I usually just make a straightforward version with prawns and vermicelli glass noodles and lots of shredded crispy salad - there's a lot of enjoyment to be had from the rolling, with any kids who happen to be around always keen to give it a go. I think the rolls themselves are really just about the texture, I particularly love the soft and stretchy chew of the rice-paper wrapper and I choose not to season them at all, leaving all the flavour to the accompanying bowl of nuoc cham dipping sauce.
The key ingredient for nuoc cham sauce is Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam) an ingredient I used to be a bit wary of after the catastrophe of having once broken a bottle, which left my kitchen at the time never quite able to recover. Over the years though I've learned to use it more bravely, particularly since we went to the wonderful Phu Quoc on our last family holiday abroad over New Year 2020 just a few months before lockdown.
Phu Quoc is renowned for making the best fish sauce in the world, fermenting it from local anchovies in wooden casks; however and understandably, there is a ban on taking it off the island in flight luggage in case of a noxious on-board breakage. After much fretting, I took the risk (of course) and triumphantly brought home three meticulously-wrapped and intact bottles, the last one of which is sadly now nearing the end of the bottle (and close to the use-by date). I have scoured the internet unsuccessfully for nuoc mam from Phu Quoc but luckily my local Longdan store sells it’s own version which will do for us, until we can visit the island again.
Nuoc cham sauce
To make the classic dipping sauce, the ratio is entirely up to your own taste buds but I go for roughly equal quantities of of Nuoc mam and lime juice (2 tbsp of each) with half quantity of caster sugar (1 tbsp) and about the same volume again (4- 5 tbsp) of water. I add finely chopped garlic and chilli but both are optional.