These Vietnamese-style salad rolls are fun for guests to make—lay out all the ingredients and let everyone create their own. Look for rice vermicelli and rice paper wrappers at Asian markets or specialty food stores.
- 1 lb. thin asparagus, bottoms trimmed and discarded, with 4- to 5-inch tips remaining
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. canola oil
- 2 oz. rice vermicelli
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced into long strips, 1/8 inch wide
- 1 Japanese cucumber, peeled and sliced into long strips, 1/8 inch wide
- 1/2 cup large fresh mint leaves
- 1 small head red leaf lettuce, leaves separated and washed
- 8 to 10 (81/2-inch-round) rice paper wrappers
Bring saucepan of water and sea salt to a boil over high heat. Blanch asparagus for 1 minute. Remove asparagus from water, rinse under cold water and set aside.
Add oil to water and cook vermicelli about 2 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water. Leave noodles in cool water to prevent sticking together.
Just before wrapping, drain noodles and place on cookie sheet, loosely covered with damp paper towel. Repeat with prepared vegetables, mint leaves and lettuce.
Fill large mixing bowl with very hot water. Keep boiling water handy if temperature drops.
Dip rice paper wrapper into water for several seconds; these soften after moistening. Remove from water and lay flat on work surface. Place 2 mint leaves on bottom half of wrapper. Layer small lettuce leaf, 2 asparagus spears and pieces of cucumber and carrot on top of mint. Top with 1 tablespoon of the noodles. Start rolling wrapper up tightly, folding right and left sides in over filling after first roll. Continue rolling rice paper and pressing in ingredients, keeping edges folded in, until packet is complete. Repeat procedure with rice papers until you have used up filling. Cut each roll in half, arrange attractively on platter and pass with Ginger Dipping Sauce.