Angkor Wat

angkor_wat
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Nem Srorh
Fresh Spring Rolls

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This dish is also known in the UK as 'Vietnamese Spring Rolls' and as ‘Summer Rolls' in the USA  because of its fresh and delightful taste. Thanks to that, it is often preferred to fried spring rolls during hot summer time in Cambodia. We mainly eat this as a snack or appetiser. It can also be made with cooked pork or chicken; or with steamed tofu as a vegetarian dish using soy sauce instead of fish sauce in the dipping sauce.

Did you know
Mint leaves have numerous health benefits. It is believed that, not only are they good for almost all our internal organs and skin, but they are also an aphrodisiac.   

Little story     
By chance,  I stumbled upon a website:  (http://www.helpwithcooking.com/herb-guide/mint.html), which states that, according to Greek mythology, Minthe or Menthe as she is also known, was a river nymph. Hades, the God of the Underworld, fell in love with Minthe and wanted to make her his lover. However, Persephone, Hades' wife found out and in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a plant, so that everyone would walk all over her and trample her. Unable to undo the spell, Hades gave Minthe a wonderful aroma so that he could be near her and smell her.

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           Chi Neang Vorng
Known as to the West as Thai Basil

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         Chi Tpal Trei
          (Fish Wort)

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       Chi Saing Kra-hum
 (known to the West as Vietnamese basil)

 

Serves 4-6 people (makes 20-22 rolls) 

Ingredients
Rice paper 1 pack - 22 cm (9 inch) diameter (insert pic)
Hot water (not boiling) 1 large bowl, to soften the rice paper 

Filling
Rice vermicelli150g (3½ oz), soaked in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, run under cold water, drained, covered and set aside
Fresh bean sprouts 2 handfuls, washed, drained and patted dry
Small carrot 1, peeled and julienned  
Prawns 200g (7¼ oz), peeled, deveined, washed, halved and cooked in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, drained and patted dry
Cucumber 1, halved with seeds removed, cut crosswise into 7½ cm (3 inch) lengths and then into strips of 1cm x 7½ cm (⅓ inch x 3 inch)
Aromatic herbs1 - chi angkarm (mint), chi tpal trei (fish wort), chi neang vorng (Thai basil) and chi saing krahum (Vietnamese basil), only the leaves, washed and patted dry
Lettuce 1 head, separated, rinsed, patted dry, middle stems discarded with remaining leaves torn into small pieces 

Dipping sauce (see recipe) 

Method

1 - To soften rice paper - Rehydrate a sheet of rice paper by dipping half first into the large bowl of warm water2 and then gently rotating it around until the edge and the centre are wet, about 10 seconds3. Then place it on a flat surface such as a chopping board(or the back of a clean tin baking sheet). Allow the dampened rice sheet to soften for up to 20 seconds then it will be ready for use. (Note: to save waiting time, soften another rice paper sheet before you start rolling the current soft one - creating a production line activity) 

3 - To make the rolls (see illustration)
- Place a few small pieces of lettuce on the rice paper at about 5 cm (2 inch) from the nearest side to you, top with a cucumber stick, carrot juliennes, bean sprouts, rice vermicelli and a few leaves of aromatic herbs.
- Then arrange 3 halves of prawns, cut side up, at about 3 cm (1⅓ inch) further away towards the opposite side of the rice paper.
- Cover the filling with the edge nearer to you. Slightly lift it, roll one turn whilst gently pulling it towards you to straighten the rice paper.
- Fold in the left side and then the right side to make the roll about 10 cm (4 inch) long
- Roll tightly over the prawns to form a compact cylinder.
- Place the finished roll on a plate with the seam-side down and cover with a damp T-towel or cling film (saran wrap) to prevent it from drying out.
- Repeat this process until the remaining rice papers and filling are finished. 

4 - The rolls can be kept for up to a few hours at room temperature before serving with the dipping sauce. If there are any left after serving, you can refrigerate them overnight. However, as rice paper and rice vermicelli harden in cold temperatures, leave them at room temperature (still wrapped) for at least 1 hour, or microwave on medium setting for 30 seconds (leave to cool) before eating. This will allow them to soften again but, remember, it won't be as nice as the fresh one.   

Tips
1 If aromatic herbs are not available, you can just use mint leaves alone.
Adding a few tablespoon of lime/lemon juice to the water will help strengthening the rice paper - it won't tear easily.
 Do not leave the rice paper too long in the water as it will easily tear when rolled.