vietnamese spring rolls with peanut sauce and seasoned fish sauce

When we lived in Kitchener, ON. one of our favourite restaurants was a Vietnamese place where the pho (thin rice noodles served generally in soup) was outstanding and the spring rolls were a luscious treat.  It was one of our regular take-out stops.

What made Pho Dau Bo (the one on Kings St. E. for those in the know) unforgettable for us was the peanut dipping sauce for the spring rolls.  That sauce had fire, just a hint of sweetness, a smooth perfect-for-dipping-into texture, and an all around nutty satisfaction.

This particular mixture of flavours has eluded replication, but not for want of trying.  Here is another totally delicious miss, courtesy of  my partner’s adaptation of a recipe from Extending the Table: More-With-Less from World Community Cookbooks .

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Mix together

spring roll filling

  • 30 – 60g cellophane noodles, soaked in warm water until soft, cut into short pieces
  • 250g shrimp, fried and diced
  • 5ml fish sauce
  • 1ml pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • fresh basil and mint, chopped
  • 50ml dried fungus, soaked for 20 minutes and finely chopped – he used chanterelles

wrapping the gift

Using 30cm diameter rice paper, quickly dip rice paper, using them one at a time as you need, into a shallow dish filled with water and 5ml brown sugar.  Place filling along one edge, roll.  Set aside under a moist towel while preparing remaining rolls.  Serve with dipping sauce.

These rolls can be fried, half submerged in oil over medium heat about 6 – 8 minutes.  We consumed them, without frying, with two yummy dipping sauces.

Peanut Dipping Sauce

In 15ml oil, slightly brown

  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 red chili pepper, minced (you can leave this out or decrease the amount for less heat in the sauce, a silly notion in our home)


  • 20ml fish sauce
  • 1 – 2 finely diced tomatoes
  • 175ml water
  • 30ml brown sugar
  • 20ml soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15ml lime juice

Mix together and add to above mixture

  • 15ml flour  -he used spelt flour

    a good serve-with

  • 100ml peanuts, crushed  – he used natural organic peanut butter

Simmer mixture, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.  Leftovers are desirable.

Seasoned Fish Sauce

Stir together

  • 45ml sugar
  • 15ml lime or lemon juice
  • 1 – 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 175ml water

When sugar is dissolved, add

  • 1ml crushed red pepper
  • 45ml fish sauce
  • grated carrot