Roast duck with rice paper rolls. Photo: William Meppem
ROAST DUCK RICE PAPER ROLLS
¼ medium daikon
Salad of sauteed beef with cold rice noodles. Photo: William Meppem
1 Lebanese cucumber
2 tbsp sea salt
1 cup caster sugar
2 cups rice wine vinegar
100g dried rice vermicelli noodles
¼ cup roasted cashews
¾ cup mint leaves
¾ cup coriander leaves
¾ cup nuoc cham dressing (for recipe, see salad below)
½ Chinese roast duck
12 rice paper rounds (22cm diameter) or 2 x 450g packs fresh rice paper sheets
¼ bunch garlic chives, 4cm lengths
For the dipping sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
½ tbsp Chinese Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
lime juice, to taste
Makes 12 rolls
PEEL CARROT AND DAIKON and cut into matchsticks. Cut cucumber into matchsticks, discarding the seeds in the centre. Mix vegetables together in a bowl with the sea salt and leave for 10 minutes.
HEAT SUGAR AND VINEGAR together until sugar dissolves, then pour hot liquid over the vegetables. Leave to pickle overnight.
COMPLETELY IMMERSE dried rice noodles in hot water for at least 1 hour, until soft and flexible but still firm. Drain well and place in a large mixing bowl.
ROUGHLY CHOP the cashews. Tear the mint leaves. Add both to a mixing bowl along with drained pickled vegetables and coriander. Mix through just enough nuoc cham dressing to coat and flavour the mixture. Check seasoning.
REMOVE DUCK MEAT from frame. Cut breast into 1cm-thick pieces. Shred the leg meat into pieces about the same size.
FOR THE SAUCE, whisk ingredients together and check the flavour balance.
IF USING dried rice paper, work with one sheet at a time: briefly soak one in a shallow bowl of warm water until it's pliable. Transfer to a damp, clean tea towel. Place some of the noodle and vegetable mixture in the centre of one sheet. Add a few pieces of chive and some duck. Roll over one edge, fold in sides, then continue to roll firmly to seal.
FOR FRESH rice paper sheets, soften contents of a packet in warm water to gently separate the sheets, then drain and pat dry. Follow instructions as before but simply roll up, leaving ends open. Repeat with remaining ingredients, keeping rolls covered with a damp cloth, until ready to serve.
CUT ROLLS, place on a platter and serve with dipping sauce.
SALAD OF SAUTÉED BEEF WITH COLD RICE NOODLES
500g trimmed rump steak
2 lemongrass stalks
3 tbsp fish sauce
½ tbsp caster sugar
400g dried rice vermicelli noodles
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 eschalots, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
handful of bean sprouts
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced into half-moons
handful of coriander leaves
handful of mint leaves
handful of Vietnamese mint leaves
¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
¼ cup fried shallots
For nuoc cham dressing (makes ¾ cup)
2 de-seeded long red chillies, chopped
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp palm sugar, grated
juice of 1 lime
¼ cup water
¼ cup fish sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
CUT BEEF INTO THIN SLICES. Remove tops from the lemongrass stalks and discard. Finely slice the white and light green stalks. Combine 2 tbsp of fish sauce, sugar and half the lemongrass in a bowl. Add beef slices to bowl, stir and leave to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
IN A POT, BOIL ENOUGH WATER to cover the noodles. Turn off heat and immerse rice noodles for 3-7 minutes until noodles are soft, cooked through but still firm, not mushy. Rinse the noodles under cold water for 30 seconds, then place them in cold water in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the dish.
FOR THE NUOC CHAM dressing, pound chilli and garlic in a mortar with a pestle to form a paste; add the palm sugar and pound together. Stir in other liquids slowly until they are completely incorporated. Check the balance of seasoning: it should be salty, sweet and sour.
HEAT THE OIL in a wok over a very high heat and add the eschalot, garlic and remaining lemongrass. Stir-fry briefly, then throw in the beef, allowing it to char and develop a smoky flavour. Add remaining fish sauce, then remove from the heat.
DRAIN THE NOODLES well, share over four bowls and top with bean sprouts, cucumber and most of the herbs. Add beef to the bowls and dress with nuoc cham. Garnish with remaining herbs, peanuts and fried shallots.
- Take these dishes to the next level by sourcing fresh rice vermicelli for the salad or fresh rice paper sheets for the rolls. Try your local Asian grocer.
- Rice paper rolls are best eaten as soon as they're made. Don't put them in the fridge: the rice paper will become hard and chewy.
- When preparing the salad, cut the rump steak against the grain to make it more tender.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
Earthy and herbal tones work well with the rich duck and fresh aromas of these dishes. With bright blueberry and raspberry notes perfect for the hoisin, Gary Mills' 2015 Jamsheed "Pepé Le Pinot" Harem Series ($26) from Victoria's Yarra Valley is a delight.