Part salad, part appetizer, these delicious rolls are a definite crowd-pleaser.
Goi cuon (pronounced "goy kwan") are an impressive addition to any meal or even on their own. You combine a handful of fresh ingredients for a light snack or an unforgettable starter. Once you've got the technique down, it's all about assembling the right components. It may seem like a ton of work, but it's worth it!
Ingredients (makes 8 rolls)
- 12 shrimp, boiled and cut in half lengthwise
- 1 bundle Japanese somen noodles
- 2 eggs
- 1 head lettuce, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped Thai basil
- 8 sheets of rice paper
- Hoisin sauce
- Hot chili sauce like Sriracha
- Ground peanuts (optional)
In a small saucepan, boil the somen noodles for about 3 minutes until soft. Carefully drain the pot and add cold water to the noodles to stop the cooking process. Pull out hanks of the noodles and squeeze them dry carefully with your hands. Set them aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
Whisk the eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Fry them over medium heat as a thin omelet, cool, and cut in half and then into strips. Add them to the plate with the noodles.
If you're using loose leaf lettuce, just roughly chop the leaves after rinsing them. For harder lettuce like romaine, cut out the rigid central stem first. Add the chopped cilantro and basil, combining well in a large bowl.
You'll need three dinner plates to get your assembly line going. In one, carefully add about a cup of hot water. Quickly immerse a sheet of rice paper in the water, then transfer it, rough side up, to another plate. Repeat the process, so you'll have two rolls going at once. You may want to wet your fingertips and make sure each sheet is well saturated—you'll get the feel for it once you get going.
Lay down three pieces of shrimp, cut side up, about one quarter up from the bottom of the rice paper. Add some somen noodles, two strips of omelet, and about two tablespoons of the greens. Carefully fold up the bottom quarter of the rice paper to cover the roll, then the sides, and finally roll up the rest. That's it! The rice paper will be pliable enough to seal itself. Just set aside the rolls, seam side down, on a fourth plate.
Serve with a small dish of hoisin sauce and spicy chili sauce on the side. Ground peanuts make a nice addition to the sauce for a little additional texture.
- In a restaurant setting, you may find these rolls with just lettuce, shrimp, and noodles. This recipe is the way my family likes to make them, so play around with the greens, herbs, and fillings.
- If you don't want to use shrimp, imitation crab, snow crab, or even strips of tofu would be great for this. You can even make the rolls with just the strips of egg if you're on a budget.
- These are best when wrapped fresh, so prepare your fillings ahead of time and keep them refrigerated. Once you have the rolling technique down, you'll be able to produce these in under a minute each.
- You can save time by using pre-washed lettuce like spring mix, but don't skimp on the herbs.
*Photos courtesy of Sarina Petrocelly.
Have you ever had goi cuon? What are some of your favorite fillings? Let us know in the comments.