- 1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Peanut or olive oil, optional
- 1/2 pound fine rice vermicelli (bun)
- 12 (10-inch) rice paper wrappers (banh trang)
- 1 pound boiled shrimp, sliced in 1/2 lengthwise
- 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 1/2 cups thinly shredded romaine lettuce
- 48 mint leaves
- 24 cilantro sprigs
- 48 Thai basil leaves
- 1 carrot, cut into julienne
- Peanut Sauce, (Nuoc Leo), recipe follows
Place the pork tenderloin in a bowl with the shallot, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, and oil, if using, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate, turning occasionally, at least 1 hour and up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat a grill to high. Grill the tenderloin, turning occasionally, until just cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Transfer tenderloin to a plate and set aside to cool to room temperature before proceeding. Once cooled, slice tenderloin into 1/8-inch thick slices and set aside, covered and refrigerated, until you are ready to assemble the spring rolls.
Assemble the rolls 1 at a time: Dip 1 spring roll wrapper into lukewarm water and quickly transfer to a clean kitchen towel. (Wrapper will soften within seconds.) Lay 4 shrimp halves in a horizontal line across the center of each wrapper and top with a few tablespoons of cooked (well-drained) vermicelli. Top the vermicelli with 1 or 2 slices of cucumber, 2 tablespoons or so of the shredded romaine, 4 mint leaves, 2 sprigs of cilantro, and 4 basil leaves. Place a few sticks of carrot julienne along the top of the filling ingredients and top with 2 slices of pork. Carefully pull the lower edge of the wrapper up and over the filling. Fold the 2 sides inward over the filling and press to seal. Work carefully so as not to tear the wrapper. Once both sides are folded inward over the filling, roll the spring roll upwards so that the filling is tightly contained and roll up to seal. Set the spring roll aside on a plate, covered with a damp paper towel or damp clean kitchen towel. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. Once you have assembled all of the spring rolls, serve them immediately either at room temperature or slightly chilled, with the Peanut Sauce on the side for dipping.
Peanut Sauce (Nuoc Leo):
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock or water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
- 1 fresh red Thai chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced, optional
- Sriracha sauce, for garnishing, optional
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and, when hot, add the garlic, chile paste, and tomato paste, and cook until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add the broth, sugar, peanut butter and hoisin sauce and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly before serving. Serve in small bowls, garnished with the peanuts, sliced chiles and optional hot sauce.
May be served warm or at room temperature.
Yield: about 1 1/4 cups