This recipe is very loosely based on the traditional Vietnamese noodle bowl, bun thit nuong cha gio, a vermicelli bowl with all manner of veg, spring rolls and nuoc cham. I went for a creamier lemongrass and hoisin dressing and also a hit of chilli oil, and I think you are going to love it. It's quick to prepare and if you go heavy on the vegetable quotient, mostly healthy. The key is getting that balance of sweet and sour, crunchy and chewy.
16-20 frozen cocktail spring rolls
200g rice noodles, softened in a large bowl of boiling water and strained
1 small carrot, shredded using a mandolin or julienned
½ small red onion, finely sliced
1 handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 handful Thai basil leaves, coarsely torn
1 handful green beans, halved lengthways and chopped into bite-sized pieces
a few lettuce leaves per bowl
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
4 tbsp Kewpie mayo
1 tbsp finely grated lemongrass, white part only
juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp brown sugar
crunchy chilli oil
4 tbsp peanuts, roughly crushed
2 tbsp fried shallots
1. Preheat the oven to 200C fan-forced (220C conventional). Spread the spring rolls on a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 20 minutes, or according to packet instructions, until golden and crisp.
2. While the spring rolls are cooking, toss together the salad ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
4. Divide the noodles between serving bowls. Add some salad elements to the side, then add 4-5 spring rolls per bowl. Drizzle over a little of the dressing. Add a spoonful of chilli oil, scatter with the peanuts and fried shallots and serve with extra lime cheeks. This is best eaten while the spring rolls are still piping hot and the salad has plenty of life and crunch.