Who doesn’t love a spring roll? It’s the perfect union between vegetables and proteins bounded by sliver of carbohydrates that even the most ardent low carb fiend would approve.
The typical goi cuon contains pork and shrimp, but we must commend chef Kristen of the very popular Little Saigon restaurant, Garlic and Chives for her ingenious idea of using salmon belly. The salmon belly is fried, it’s exterior cripsy and crunchy, but due to the relative high fat content of the belly, it’s still moist and tender on the inside. Now, rolling up fish in spring rolls isn’t a novel idea—we do it all the time with our turmeric salmon and many restaurants devoted to this using roasted catfish, ca nuong. What’s genius about using salmon belly is the sheer ease to prepare and portion. We have to admit, it’s a laborious task of roasting a whole fish or an entire filet of salmon. Luckily many Asian markets sell salmon belly trimmed off the main filet so easy to buy exactly what you need and it cooks a lot faster. We prefer to deep fry, but you can definitely saute or even oven bake or airfry the belly’s. The texture will but slightly different, but it should all taste great.
The additional vegetables and herbs can be entirely up to you, but we do like to different textures and flavors in our spring roll so that each bite is bursting with contrasts. All the ingredients in our Nem Nuong cuon
is a good starting point, including something pickled like carrots and daikon and crunchy, especially the fried egg roll wrapper. We even improvised and added a nori strip to add a touch of salty and crunchy.
Chef Kristen uses a tamarind based dipping sauce that is tart and savory and complements the salmon wonderfully.
- 8 salmon belly roughly 5 x 1 inch strips
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 ts sesame oil
- 8 spring roll rice paper wrappers
- 1.5 cup leaf lettuce coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup Vietnamese herbs mint, basil, roughly chopped
- 1 cucumber cut same size as salmon belly, about 5 inch strips
- 1/2 cup pickled carrots and daikon
Crunchy egg roll wrapper
- 8 wheat egg roll wrappers 6" square, optional
- 1 ts tapioca starch or corn starch
- 1 tbs water
- 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- Optional mince chile
- Marinade the salmon belly with oyster sauce and sesame oil for at 10- 20 min.
- Meanwhile, make the crunchy egg roll wrapper. Form a paste by combining tapioca starch and water in small bowl. Roll the square wrappers into tight cigar shape and seal with tapioca paste. Deep fry until crispy, drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Make the tamarind dipping sauce by combining tamarind, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and mix well. Top with minced chiles and set aside.
- Deep fry or pan fry the salmon belly until golden brown. When cool to the touch, roll into spring roll wraps using your desired greens, herbs, cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon. Serve immediately with tamarind dipping sauce.