Recipe Alert! Vietnamese Summer Rolls (Goi Cuon)


Vietnamese summer rolls are one of my favorite Vietnamese appetizers.  In my family, we eat them as both an appetizer or as the main course.  At restaurants, they are normally served already made with a side of dipping sauce.  At home, we make it a more fun meal by having everyone make the rolls themselves.

Goi Cuon

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • 1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned
  • 1 package vermicelli rice noodles, cooked according to package
  • 1 package rice paper wrappers “banh trang” (I like the kind with the elephant on it)
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch chinese chives
  • 1 bunch boston lettuce
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter (I like the crunchy kind)
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, crushed
Directions:
  1. Boil the pork tenderloin until cooked.  Once the meat cools, cut into thin slices.
  2. Slice each shrimp in half lengthwise.
  3. To make the dipping sauce, mix the peanut butter and hoisin sauce together and microwave 10 seconds at a time, stirring and adding a teaspoon of water until it reaches a medium consistency.  Top with the crushed peanuts.

    For assembling the rolls:

  4. Fill a large bowl with cold water, dip a rice paper sheet in the water and place on a flat plate.  Wait about 45 seconds for it to soften up.
  5. Layer on one end a bit of lettuce, mint, rice noodles, pork slices, and shrimp.  fold the top end over it just enough to cover the layers.  Fold each side in and roll over once.  Put a few Chinese chives in and continue rolling until closed.
  6. Dip into the sauce and enjoy!
These can be made ahead of time.  Just make sure to cover with a wet paper towel to keep them moist.  And of course – serve chilled.  Happy eating!

Vietnamese Cuisine comes to South Dayton


Pho Mi Vietnamese Restaurant recently opened near my home in Dayton, Ohio.  Being a major foodie, I’m usually pretty tough when it comes to first tastings at restaurants.  And coming from a Vietnamese family, I’m extremely picky about how a dish tastes when its served on a restaurant scene.

My visit to this restaurant began with a simple Google search to see what previous reviews had been written – alas – I found none!  There were plenty of articles about the opening – like this one from the Dayton Daily News – which makes me wonder about Pho Mi’ owners and chefs credibility.  Then, I lucked out and actually found that the owners had created a web site (big surprise!).  The web site opens with a creative little flash text scroll, then opens up to the main site which gives all the essential info.  A PDF version of their lunch and dinner menu were also available.

After taking a careful look at both menus – I was even more skeptical to trying out this place.  For a place that claims to be about Vietnamese cuisine – they sure don’t know how to spell a lot of the menu items.  Many of them (all 200+) had words flip flopped in the wrong order (in Vietnamese – the English translation was pretty spot on) and whoever designed the menu – clearly doesn’t believe in spell check.  Another pet peeve on the web site was the use !!! before and after !!! every major phrase.  Really?

So it was decided that my mom and I would try this place out on a whim.  We stopped in about 7 p.m. on Saturday night to find the place pretty dead – only a few tables of people full.  We ordered an appetizer (goi cuon/summer rolls) and an entree (mi xao don & ga/crispy egg noodles with chicken and vegetables) to share.  Service was okay – I would not have expected any less since there were 3 servers and 5 tables of people.  What I didn’t like, was the fact that they were all staring at everyone in the dining room eating – made me very nervous.

Goi Cuon -Vietnamese Summer Roll

Our goi cuon came at $1.50 a roll (a bit steep) for an egg-roll sized dish.  It was passable as our starter, though there was something off about it that just made it taste a bit different from having it at home or at other notable Vietnamese restaurants.

Mi Xao Mem Ga - Soft Egg Noodles with Chicken - the "wrong" dish

When our mi xao came out, it was the wrong dish.  They had given us the soft noodles instead of the crispy ones.  Despite being open for nearly a month, it seemed that the servers were not so familiar with the menu yet, or what the dishes themselves are.

After a bit of discussion, they finally agreed to bring us the actual dish we ordered.  It was actually better than I had expected.  The only downfall was that the portion was on the small to average size for about $9.50.  I’ve had the same dish else where for a couple bucks cheaper with twice the goods so it was pretty surprising. that I didn’t leave the place stuffed.

Mi Xao Don Ga - Crispy Egg Noodles with Chicken - the "right" dish

Overall – I give this place B.  It wasn’t dead on what I was hoping for, but I will definitely be going back to try something else.  If my family weren’t conveniently in the same city, I could see myself possibly coming here to get my Vietnamese cravings taken care of.