Once you've got the technique down and a bit of a production line set up, these are really simple to turn out. The trick is to make sure you soak the rice paper enough for it to start to soften, but not so much that it's hard to handle since it will soften further as you add the filling. Once you have the knack you can play with different fillings; just make them immediately before serving because they don't refrigerate well.
200g rice vermicelli
1 punnet small Swiss brown mushrooms, finely sliced
1 punnet abalone (oyster) mushrooms, finely sliced
1/2 recipe nuoc cham (see recipe here)
1 handful perilla leaves (from Asian grocers), shredded
2 Chinese-style roast duck breasts, finely sliced (see tip)
2 tbsp toasted ground rice (any kind of rice, toasted until brown in a dry pan then crushed in a mortar)
2 green chillies, finely sliced, seeds in
2 large handfuls beansprouts, blanched in boiling water for five seconds and cooled
1 packet Vietnamese rice paper rounds
1/2 cup good-quality coconut cream
2 heaped tbsp hoisin sauce
crispy fried shallots (from Asian grocers; optional)
1. Cook the vermicelli according to the packet instructions, refresh in cold water and cut into 15-centimetre lengths.
2. Dress the mushrooms heavily with the nuoc cham and set aside for five minutes to soften.
3. Set up all your ingredients on a clean bench in a row so you can work systematically (perilla, duck, toasted rice, chilli, mushrooms, beansprouts and vermicelli), leaving enough space in front of you to roll. Fill a large shallow bowl with hot water and, working one at a time, immerse a rice paper round in the water (do this reasonably quickly since they will soften on the bench; if they are too soft they become hard to work with), lie the round on the clean bench and start adding your ingredients one at a time to form a line just below the centre of the round. Fold the edge closest to you over the filling and roll over, folding the sides in tightly as you do. The roll will seal itself once fully rolled. Set aside and repeat.
4. Mix the coconut cream and hoisin together, sprinkle over some fried shallots (if using) and serve with the rolls.
Tip: At some supermarkets you can now buy Chinese-style duck breasts that are already roasted, or you can pick up a roasted bird (or half) from a Chinese barbecue restaurant.
Drink: Cold, crisp lager